IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Former Cleveland school therapist charged in Capitol riot

Christine Priola resigned "to expose the global evil of human trafficking and pedophilia" allegedly supported by government agencies.
Image: Christine Priola
Christine Priola, a former occupational therapist for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, right, in the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6, 2021 after a mob stormed the Capitol.Win McNamee / Getty Images

A former Ohio school therapist, photographed at Vice President Mike Pence's desk during last week's deadly attack at the U.S. Capitol, was charged with multiple criminal counts, officials said.

Christine Marie Priola, 49, resigned her post as an occupational therapist with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District the day after her image was famously captured at the riot that left at least five people dead.

"I will be switching paths to expose the global evil of human trafficking and pedophilia, including in our government and children's agencies," Priola wrote in a Jan. 7 resignation letter released by the district.

She's been charged with three federal offenses: Violent entry and disorderly conduct, knowingly entering a restricted building and unlawful activities on Capitol grounds, according to a criminal complaint written by Deputy U.S. Marshal David Kasulones.

Priola made an initial appearance before a federal judge on Thursday and was released on a $20,000 bond, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland.

A tip to FBI agents in Cleveland apparently led Investigators to Priola.

Priola was inside Senate chambers "holding a sign, reading, in part, 'The Children Cry Out for Justice' " while "occupying the seat of the Vice President of the United States," according to the criminal complaint.

Rioters, egged on by President Donald Trump's continued lies that he won November's general election, stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in hopes of violently stopping Congress from formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

"The female was also wearing a red winter coat and distinctive pants that appeared to have the name 'Trump' and other words written on the leg," Kasulones added.

There was no answer Friday at two publicly listed phone numbers for Priola. Two federal public defenders, listed as her attorneys, could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

In Priola's resignation letter to CMSD, she cited three reasons for leaving her job helping draw special education plans for students with disabilities.

Priola said she objects to the coronavirus vaccine, is opposed to union dues "that support the killing of unborn children" and claims she's embarking on a new career to fight government-sponsored trafficking.

Baseless allegations that government officials are part of a secret cabal of child sex traffickers have become the bedrock of far-right, conspiratorial dogma.