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Lawsuit claims teen threatened with arrest over coronavirus posts

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A 16-year-old girl has sued a Wisconsin sheriff, claiming she was threatened with arrest if she did not delete social media posts saying she had contracted the coronavirus after a Florida spring break trip.

Amyiah Cohoon, a sophomore in the Westfield School District, has accused Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath of violating her First Amendment rights in a lawsuit brought in Green Bay Federal Court Thursday. Her parents are also plaintiffs.

The lawsuit says Amyiah suffered a severe respiratory illness with symptoms matching those of COVID-19 during the trip to Disney World in Orlando with her high school’s band class in early March.

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She and her parents were told March 26 that she tested negative for the disease. Her attorney said, however, that hospital doctors told the girl’s family that she likely had the virus, but missed the window for testing positive.

Court exhibit shows Amyiah Cohoon, a sophomore in the Westfield School District, who is suing a Wisconsin sheriff, claiming she was threatened with arrest if she did not delete social media posts saying she had contracted the coronavirus.

Court exhibit shows Amyiah Cohoon, a sophomore in the Westfield School District, who is suing a Wisconsin sheriff, claiming she was threatened with arrest if she did not delete social media posts saying she had contracted the coronavirus.

“I am finally home after being hospitalized for a day and a half. I am still on breathing treatment but have beaten the coronavirus. Stay home and be safe,” Amyiah said in a March 26 Instagram post, according to the lawsuit. She also posted a picture of herself in the hospital with an oxygen mask on her face.

The lawsuit says the next day Konrath sent Sgt. Cameron Klump to Amyiah’s home and Klump threatened to arrest the teen and her parents for disorderly conduct if her COVID-19 posts weren’t deleted.

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No one was threatened with arrest, and an “aggressive defense” is planned, said Samuel Hall, attorney for the sheriff and the Marquette County Sheriff’s Department.

Hall said the girl’s messages “caused distress and panic within the school system and law enforcement acted at the request of school health officials in a good faith effort to avoid unfounded panic.”

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Amyiah and her parents, Richand and Angela, by the Wisconsin Institute for Liberty and Law, seeks nominal damages and a declaration that the social media posts were protected free speech.

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As of Thursday there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Marquette County, according to the Wisconsin Health Department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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