AUSTINTOWN TWP., Ohio (WKBN) — On Friday, a local woman started a petition in an attempt to get a judge to hear a case for the removal of one of the township’s trustees. At Monday’s trustee meeting, she was there to add more signatures to the several hundred already acquired.

Austintown Township trustee Steve Kent was charged with sexual assault and battery against a 16- and 17-year-old during the time he served as a Poland schools resource officer.

Austintown resident Brenda Rider is one of the people leading the effort to get Kent removed from office. Since Friday, they’ve received a couple hundred signatures for their petition.

Rider attended Monday night’s Austintown trustees meeting to add more signatures to the petition.

Rider says that according to the Ohio Constitution, they need 15% of the voters from the 2020 gubernatorial election.

“To remove a trustee — or anybody in authority — for moral turpitude, which means anything that’s bad behavior as far as a community is concerned,” Rider says, they would need 2,920 signatures.

If they get enough, they would need to take it to the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas.

Rider says Kent’s legal issues are getting in the way of the township’s progress.

“They can’t focus on the business at hand. We have to focus on everything else and then try to do the best we can with what’s left,” Rider says. “Unfortunately, nothing is getting done as efficiently as it could.”

Steve Kent was not at Monday night’s meeting. Trustee Monica Deavers said Kent’s wife was having surgery.

Deavers and trustee Robert Santos have no choice but to let the process of the petition play out.

“It’s 100% within her right to do so. We, as elected officials — as we have stated previously — have no authority in this matter at this time,” Santos says.

Rider believes Kent should have stepped aside while the legal process plays out.

We attempted to reach out to Kent, either by phone call or in-person at previous trustee meetings. Each time, he’s refused to comment