A 137 year-old family bakery faces ruin after a woke college falsely accused it of racism – then refused to pay a $33m defamation award ordered by a court.
Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio, has slashed its staff from 12 to four after the 2016 incident that saw Oberlin College students – and senior staff members – brand the family business racist.
They did so after Gibson’s it called the cops on three black shoplifters who stole wine and attacked a staff member, and who were later convicted. When DailyMail.com visited the bakery on Tuesday morning, it was quiet, with staff members there too still too distressed by the ordeal to speak.
The Gibsons suffered horrific stress as a result of Oberlin’s lies, which culminated in the college and its former dean of students Meredith Raimondo being ordered to pay out $44 million for defamation in 2019.
That was later reduced to $33 million, but Oberlin has arrogantly declared that it still won’t pay out after losing a state court appear earlier this month. Meanwhile, Raimondo has landed on her feet with a cozy new college job in Georgia despite her horrific behavior.
The saga inflicted by college has dragged on for so long that two senior members of the Gibson family died with a stain on their reputation, while waiting for the cash they’re legally entitled to.
Allyn Gibson Sr – who marched with Martin Luther King Jr – died in February this year aged 93.
And one of his sons, David, died of pancreatic cancer in November 2019. He revealed he’d agreed to avoid mentioning the disease during the defamation trial for fear of influencing the jury – but released a message before his death saying he believed Oberlin bosses were trying to ‘wait the family out’ before paying in the hopes that his death would take the heat off them.
The family’s attorney Lee Plakas said an unofficial boycott among Oberlin staff and students remains in place, with the bakery quiet when DailyMail.com visited on Tuesday morning.
Former Oberlin dean of students and vice president Meredith Raimondo has faced no such heartache. She was allowed to leave her job in 2021 – despite leading the charge against Gibson’s and even protesting outside the shop with a bullhorn and leaflets accusing it of racial profiling.
Raimondo – who also threatened to unleash a woke mob on a professor who criticized the protests – is now free to wreak havoc at Oglethorpe Liberal Arts College in Atlanta.
She took up a position there as vice president of student affairs, and has not responded to DailyMail.com requests for comment on her bullying behavior.
DailyMail.com has also contacted Oglethorpe for a comment from Raimundo’s appointment.
Family-run Gibson’s Bakery is struggling to hold on after a woke Ohio college pushed a false narrative of racism, encouraged the community to boycott the establishment and ceased its food contracts with the shop. The store was quiet when DailyMail.com visited on Tuesday morning
Attorney Lee Plakas, who represents the Gibsons, told DailyMail.com Tuesday that the college’s false accusations continue to hurt the family today.
‘Business has suffered and the family is doing everything they possibly can to continue the bakery’s tradition,’ he said, noting how the bakery was forced to cut back its staff, going from nearly a dozen workers to three to four total employees.
Plakas said the Gibsons were forced to downsize operations because business has significantly slowed and that ‘they’re just trying to hold on until the justice system forces the college to pay for the damages they caused.’
‘The Gibsons are understandably concerned,’ the attorney explained. ‘They are very disappointed that the college, to this date – even with this record and mountain of evidence that they were wrong – is acting this way.’
After the allegations of racial profiling surfaced, Oberlin College terminated its contract with Gibson’s, which had been longtime provider to the school’s dining hall facility, despite the fact that the bakery never received any complaints of about its product, prices or professionalism
Allyn Gibson (right) and David Gibson (left) fought for their family’s legacy until their deaths. David Gibson died in November 2019 at age 65 and Allyn, 93, died in February 2022
Former Dean of Students and Vice President Meredith Raimondo stoked protests against Gibson’s Bakery following the shoplifting incident, even though the claims were found to be totally false. She has since been blamed for much of the behavior that has seen Oberlin ordered to pay $35 million for defamation, with Raimondo since moving to a college in Atlanta
The college feared its student body would have ‘food tantrums’ if they continue to serve Gibson’s products, so it ceased using the bakery as a food service provider, Plakas alleged.
‘The college became the appeasers rather than the moderators,’ he said. ‘The reason they cancelled the longstanding food service order with Gibson was to appease the students because they feared the students would throw tantrums..
‘Here’s a college where tuition is approximately $70,000 a year and, I would expect if you send children to college and pay that tuition, you can reasonably expect there will be an adult in the room. The adult will be a moderating voice. But these adults were pouring gasoline on what should’ve been a spark and it became an inferno.’
The drama that severed the family’s longstanding reputation in the Oberlin community also took a toll on the health of Allyn and his son, David Gibson, 65, both of whom died waiting for the college’s settlement.
‘The impact on the family is equally dramatic, if not more so,’ Plakas said.
Allyn, also known as Grandpa Gibson, had reportedly dedicated his life to being a good citizen and maintaining the upstanding legacy his ancestors created when they opened the bakery in 1885.
‘Grandpa Gibson told his son, David: “I’ve lived my life the right way and done all the right things and I’ve helped people, people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds, and at the end of my hard life, they’re trying to brand me and my family as a racist,”‘ Plakas recalled, citing David’s testimony during the trial against Oberlin College.
‘That moment was a poignant moment in trial. It was hard for David Gibson to get out that testimony because he knew how much these false claims had impacted and hurt Grandpa Gibson, who had dedicated his life to doing the right thing,’ the attorney added.
‘Grandpa marched with Martin Luther King for fairness and equality, so for the college to sacrifice the great Gibson to appease their students, had a dramatic impact on his health. When you ruin someone’s reputation you can’t go to the doctor, you have to live with it.’
David, who died in November 2019, was also committed to preserving the family’s reputation despite his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer.
‘Defending their reputation and protecting the family legacy was so important to the family that although David Gibson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during the trial and was receiving treatment, he was there every day at the trial when he was suffering,’ Plakas shared.
Although he was ill, David refused to make the jury aware of his condition, fearing they might sympathize for him or his family, the attorney alleged.
‘David said the whole purpose was a vindication of the family long reputation and he wanted any determination to be solely on the facts and the history,’ Plakas told DailyMail.com. ‘He was concerned if the jury knew he was being treated for cancer that would some way impact their verdict in his favor. He didn’t want the verdict colored in anyway.’
Plakas shared how David believed the ‘facts would speak for themselves’ and he wanted his family to be judged ‘on their conduct’ and history in the community.
The 65-year-old knew ‘the college helped propagate the false allegation they had a long history of racism’ and was confident the evidence submitted to the jury would prove it.
David’s dying wish was that his wife, Lorna Gibson, continue to fight for their family’s bakery and legacy.
‘Lorna is working hard, she feels vulnerable, and somewhat alone without David and Grandpa,’ Plakas said of the now-owner of Gibson’s Bakery.
‘David made her promise, before he passed away, that she would do everything she could humanly do to keep the bakery going and not let the actions of Oberlin College end the long and proud history of the bakery.’
The attorney said Lorna believes by ‘working as much as humanely possible’ she is fulfilling her promise to her late husband.
However, as Gibson’s Bakery struggled to survive, Raimondo, despite her lies and bullying, was allowed to continue working at the college until she stepped down at the end of 2021 to pursue an opportunity in Georgia.
Neither she nor her new employer, Oglethorpe College, immediately responded to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
When asked about Raimondo’s employment, Plakas reiterated that Oberlin College took the side of appeasement.
‘Since this event, the college never acted as the adult in the room or moderating force, they never mentored the students. They never said let’s gather the facts and see what really happened,’ he explained.
The attorney did note: ‘Virtually, every admin that testified in the trial and made certain statements for admission to evidence is no longer at Oberlin.’
Gibson’s Bakery found itself plunged into a firestorm on November 9, 2016, the day after Donald Trump was elected president.
The drama began Allyn caught a black Oberlin student, Jonathan Aladin, attempting to steal a bottle of wine from the bakery.
Allyn chased Aladin down the street and, according to witness accounts, put the man in a choke-hold before two of the student’s friends – Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone – intervened and a brawl ensued.
The next day Oberlin students held protests outside Gibson’s accusing the bakery of racially profiling Aladin.
The family’s attorney said the Gibsons were forced to downsize operations because business has significantly slowed and that ‘they’re just trying to hold on until the justice system forces the college to pay for the damages they caused’. Gibson’s Bakery is pictured on Tuesday
David Gibson is pictured serving whole wheat donuts to Stevie Wonder in May 2010
Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone, later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted theft and aggravated trespass, and themselves said Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated.
But Oberlin, led by dean Raimondo and many students, had already decided to punish Gibson’s for the imaged transgression before allowing them fair due process.
The students held protests outside the storefront that led to a severe loss in business, including the loss of a vital contract the bakery had held with the school for years.
‘When the college sponsored new student tours, the student tour leaders – who are students paid by the college – go by and they tell the students and parents in the group, that Gibson’s is a racist establishment and we don’t go there,’ Plakas said, alleging this rhetoric still occurs during tours today.
‘They told incoming freshmen that the worst faux pas a freshman can commit is being seen at Gibson’s bakery,’ he added.
The shop also had suffered frequent thefts in the run-up to the incident which saw it accused of racism.
Raimondo encouraged the boycott and distributed fliers during the protests accusing the bakery of a longtime history of racial profiling and offered students up to $100 in compensation for protest supplies.
She even texted another dean to share her desire to unleash another woke mob on an academic who blasted Oberlin’s bullying of Gibson’s.
She wrote: ‘F**k him. I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.’
Gibson’s Bakery sued Oberlin College and Raimondo in 2017 for loss of business.
In 2019, the school was found guilty, due largely to evidence against Raimondo.
The institution was ordered to pay Gibson’s Bakery $40 million in damages, which was reduced to $25 million and $6 million in legal fees.
Gibson’s Bakery sued Oberlin College (pictured Tuesday) and Raimondo in 2017 for loss of business. In 2019, the school was found guilty, due largely to evidence against Raimondo. The institution was ordered to pay Gibson’s Bakery $40 million in damages, which was reduced to $25 million and $6 million in legal fees
The college and Raimondo appealed that sentence, but it was upheld this month. Oberlin College admitted that it is still refusing to pay the cash to the family business it tried to ruin.
The college issued a mealy-mouthed statement when contacted by DailyMail.com on Monday, saying: ‘Oberlin is obviously disappointed that the appeals court affirmed the judgment in its ruling. We are reviewing the Court’s opinion carefully as we evaluate our options and determine next steps.
‘In the meantime, we recognize that the issues raised by this case have been challenging, not only for the parties involved in the lawsuit, but for the entire Oberlin community.
‘We remain committed to strengthening the partnership between the College, the City of Oberlin and its residents, and the downtown business community. We will continue in that important work while remaining focused on our core educational mission.’
The college was ranked among the 20 most expensive colleges in the U.S. last year, according to a report from The National Observer. Despite the high price tag, the school has only seen a 4 percent decline in its enrollment over the last five years.