Oberlin to pay Gibson’s Bakery $36M in defamation suit


Oberlin College has agreed to pay over $36 million to the family-owned bakery the Ohio school falsely accused of being racist in a shoplifting incident.

Gibson’s Bakery filed suit against the progressive college in 2017 for siding with three black students who claimed the store racially profiled them when they were caught stealing from the shop the year before.

The hefty payout comes after the Ohio Supreme Court last month denied Oberlin’s bid to hear its appeal of the 2019 jury verdict, which found that the college defamed the bakery when a staffer made flyers claiming that Gibson’s had a history of racial profiling.

The college announced the award in a statement Thursday, saying that the Board of Trustees decided not to push the matter further.

David Gibson and father Allyn GIbson Sr.
Oberlin says it will pay family business Gibson’s bakery $36M after defamation case ends.
Facebook/Gibson’s Bakery

“We are disappointed by the Court’s decision. However, this does not diminish our respect for the law and the integrity of our legal system,” the small liberal arts college said.

Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone
Three students claimed they were racially profiled when they were caught stealing from the store.

Still, Oberlin said it “has initiated payment in full of the $36.59 million judgment in the Gibson’s bakery case” adding that it was awaiting bank information from the bakery to pay the damages and interest.

“This matter has been painful for everyone. We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community,” the college’s statement continued.

Bakery owner Lorna Gibson said in a piece for The Post last week that her family’s lives were “turned upside town” the night of the November 2016 robbery after the students Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone – who allegedly beat up her son Allyn Gibson – claimed to cops that Allyn racially profiled and assaulted them.

Allyn Gibson Sr. sitting in front of Gibson's.
A jury found that Gibson’s was defamed by Oberlin after a staffer made flyers claiming they had a history of racially profiling and urged people to boycott the shop.

Gibson’s nightmare unfolded when one of the students used a fake a ID to try to buy a bottle of wine, while swiped two more bottles, court papers said.

Allyn, who is white, chased that student out of the store — and a scuffle ensued between him and the three students.

The arrests caused an uproar with hundreds of students and teachers picketing outside the bakery the next day with signs claiming they were white supremacists.

One college staffer created a flyer claiming “LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,” urging people to boycott the shop.

The students eventually admitted that they weren’t racially profiled at the time of their guilty pleas to charges of attempted theft in 2017.

But the business – which used to hold catering accounts with the college – suffered greatly financially amid the scandal and had to lay off half of their staff and cut operating hours down, Gibson said in her essay.

Before dying of cancer in 2019, Gibson’s husband David made his wife promise to keep the bakery doors open. Her father-in-law who started the company and wanted to see its name cleared, died earlier this year.

“As the truth prevailed and the Gibsons were vindicated, they can now rebuild their 137-year-old family business and continue to serve their cherished community,” Gibson’s lawyer Owen Rarric told The Post.



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