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MailTribune.com
  • Armed teacher reveals identity

    South Medford's Shirley Katz finally goes public about her need for weapon; ex-spouse denies allegations
  • She is known as Jane Doe in her lawsuit challenging the Medford School Board's policy prohibiting employees from carrying concealed weapons on campuses.
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    • Ex-husband speaks out
      Gerry Katz, whose ex-wife caused a stir when she asked to bring a gun to a Medford school where she works, will be interviewed on the Bill Meyer Show at 7:35 a.m. today on KMED radio, 1440 on the A...
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      Ex-husband speaks out
      Gerry Katz, whose ex-wife caused a stir when she asked to bring a gun to a Medford school where she works, will be interviewed on the Bill Meyer Show at 7:35 a.m. today on KMED radio, 1440 on the AM dial.
  • She is known as Jane Doe in her lawsuit challenging the Medford School Board's policy prohibiting employees from carrying concealed weapons on campuses.
    But on Tuesday Shirley Katz, a South Medford High School English teacher, revealed her identity in an interview with Portland conservative talk show radio host Lars Larson.
    In a subsequent interview with the Mail Tribune Tuesday, she said she came forward after the school district filed documents disclosing her name in its motion to the Jackson County Circuit Court to dismiss the case.
    A hearing on the case is set for 2 p.m. Oct. 11 in circuit court.
    Shirley Katz, 43, asserted in her suit that she has the right to bring her handgun on campus to defend herself from her violent ex-husband, Gerry Katz.
    Under state law, permit holders may carry concealed weapons on public school campuses, but most districts have passed policies restricting employees from doing so. The Medford School District has said it has a right to set rules for its employees and to ensure staff and children's safety.
    She claimed her ex-husband tried to choke her, threatened to kill her, threatened to strike her son from a previous marriage and repeatedly violated a restraining order that was in effect from Sept. 11, 2006, until last month. She said she missed a deadline to renew the restraining order.
    "I don't have any animosity toward him," she said. "He's the father of my child. At the same time, I fear what he could do to me and my children, and I probably always will."
    Gerry Katz, a 54-year-old photographer, denied her allegations.
    "I'm not a spousal abuser," he told the Mail Tribune on Tuesday.
    "She has never filed a (criminal) charge against me. She has produced no witnesses and no evidence that she's a battered woman. There are no photographs of injuries or wounds."
    No assault charges were listed against Gerry Katz in Jackson County court records.
    He said she has perpetuated the accusations in order to persuade a judge to restrict his visitation time with their 5-year-old daughter.
    The couple have been embroiled in a custody dispute since their divorce was finalized in January. Shirley Katz was granted custody of their daughter while Gerry Katz received weekly visitation rights on the condition that he complete an anger management class.
    In the most recent custody hearing Sept. 26, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Harris denied Shirley Katz's request to further limit her ex-husband's visitation rights with their daughter. Harris also denied a simultaneous bid by Gerry Katz to obtain full custody of their daughter.
    Both Shirley and Gerry Katz have held concealed weapon permits. Gerry Katz's gun was confiscated when he was charged with disorderly conduct after he waved the weapon at another driver during an unrelated dispute before the couple's divorce was final.
    Shirley Katz said she obtained her permit in 2003. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters has denied the Mail Tribune's request for a copy of the permit. The newspaper plans to challenge Winters' decision.
    Gun rights groups have rallied behind Shirley Katz's case against the school district.
    Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation, Gun Owners of America and the Second Amendment Foundation are footing her legal bills.
    "We've been trying to highlight these cases around the country when a person's life is threatened and there is a restraining order; people who have a license for a weapon should be allowed to protect themselves," said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Wash. "This case in Oregon is the perfect example of someone who needs a firearm to protect themselves."
    Stories about the case have been featured in the Oregonian, the Christian Science Monitor, Court TV and other media outlets.
    "My hope is that the hearing (Oct. 11) will establish that Medford's policy is illegal," Shirley Katz said. "It's naive not to acknowledge, whether it's Little League, the movie theater or the grocery store, that there aren't people out there with weapons and acknowledge that we need to keep our schools safe.
    "Look at every example of school violence: the criminals knew nobody would be there to fire back."
    Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.
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