Media Scene

Court proceeding delayed for Ch. 9 meteorologist

John Ahrens
John Ahrens

A court appearance scheduled for Thursday for a WSOC (Channel 9) meteorologist accused of harassing his estranged wife has been continued until January.

At issue is the genesis of an email that John Ahrens’ wife Sobrina Driver said she received after she got a protective order against her husband of two years. She said the email came from Ahrens, but Ahrens months earlier had filed a slander suit against Driver alleging she had hacked his account and sent inappropriate messages under his name.

Efforts are still underway to determine the Internet source of the email Driver said she received.

After a hearing Nov. 3, District Court Judge Paige McThenia dismissed the protective order against Ahrens, ruling that there were no grounds proven for it. She ordered that Ahrens’ shared custody of the couple’s daughter be reinstated.

Ahrens had been summarily jailed twice for two days, once after Driver told police he had thrown rocks at her while they were handing off the toddler and a second time after she said she received a harassing overnight email from him Oct 30.

In testimony during the November hearing, Ahrens’ relatives said he was with them at an Atlantic Beach rental without Internet access when the message was sent.

Ahrens, 38, and Driver, 35, were married in September 2013 and separated in June 2015. They have been in a contentious divorce and custody dispute over their daughter, now 16 months old.

Each has accused the other of having psychological issues, and a guardian ad litem was appointed to represent the best interests of the child during the proceedings.

On Nov. 24, Ahrens’ attorney filed a motion for an injunction to force Driver to remove Internet appeals for money that feature pictures of the daughter. As of midweek, the appeals appear to have been removed.

One Go Fund Me page showed a picture of Driver and the child asking for donations. It said Driver had a difficult pregnancy, and when the baby was 5 months old, a man with a knife approached her in the parking lot of her apartment and stabbed her in the hand while she was protecting the baby, then he vanished and was never caught.

Months later, the chronology on the page said, Driver contracted MRSA and breast cancer. “Even when her husband left her because he was weak, she pushed on,” the Go Fund Me appeal said.

A second Go Fund Me page with a different picture of Driver and the child asked for money to help with legal and medical bills.

Also, a Fundly Web page and a YouTube video both characterize Driver as a victim of domestic violence, the motion says. These allegations affect Ahrens’ reputation and ultimately his career, the motion says.

Ahrens is still employed by Channel 9 but has not been on the air in months, pending the outcome of the harassment case, now scheduled for Jan. 14. Driver is represented by Theresa Viera of Gastonia and Ahrens is represented by Amber Morris of Charlotte in the custody and slander case, and by Lance Williams of Charlotte in the harassment action.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs