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Should I sue for libel? Am already getting a restraining order for stalking.

Steamboat Springs, CO |

Woman who I ended a friendship with became extremely angry. Felt slighted and betrayed. About 19 months ago she began harassing my husband and me by sending emails, texts and facebook messages. We told her we wanted all communication to cease. It did. We thought it was over. Then about 6 months later, when I interviewed for a job, she resurfaced. Upon hearing I interviewed for a job as a counselor at a local school, contacted the school's full time counselor. She wrote emails to the full time counselor and the principal detailing why she thought I'd make a poor school counselor. The emails included personal details about my marriage and falsehoods. When she didn't receive the result she desired she wrote to superintendent and accused me of criminal activity, impropriety with a minor, false

Accused me of having an affair with a former student. Accused me of keeping up with him on facebook until he was 21 (for some reason, not 18) and then had an affair with him while I was pregnant with my third child. All fabricated. Completely made up. She brings up the Penn State scandal as if to liken me to a predator. She included information that was accurate about a dalliance with a 22 year old man while I was married but separated from my husband. Nothing the school was interested in or needed to know.Needless to say I've kept my job because I've spent 12 years in this town building a stellar professional repuation and she has done just the opposite. She has verbally and physcially accosted two of my three children. One incident was a s recent as one month ago. I went to police. The elementary school and the middle school where I work is aware of her antics. A month ago she leaned into a car where my 5 year old was and said in his ear, "your mommy is crazy, and mean." All three children heard.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

It sounds like you have two options. When she accosts you and/or your children in public, she is committing an assault. Call 911 and have her arrested. Leaning into your car, touching you or a child, or verbally abusing you beyond normal are all criminal acts.

Second, you can file for a restraining order, and should do so. The latest action of leaning into the car is a direct physical threat. You should take to the court any emails, letters, etc. that you have showing that she's obsessed and continuing unwanted contacts. If someone saw the car incident take that person as a witness. You must tell the judge that you fear physical harm from her against you or your chlidren to get the order. If you tell the judge you're not really afraid of her, then the judge will deny the order.

You may want to get a lawyer to assist with the restraining order so that nothing goes wrong and you get the order.

Your best bet is to discuss the matter with a lawyer familiar with these issues and find out your rights and options.

Many attorneys provide limited or unbundled legal services which means that you can obtain just the services you need, such as a consultation, documents, or appearance for a single hearing or mediation, and pay a lower cost. Neighborhood Law Office is such a firm.

Good Luck
Jim
jim@NeighborhoodLawOffice.com

NOTICE— This answer is based upon a partial understanding of the facts and may not be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship between the writer and the attorney. It is provided for general information. You should always consult an attorney about your important legal rights.

Asker

Posted

Jim, Thank you so much. I appreciate your answer and help immensely. I have made some progress but honestly, I am so paranoid, and fearful- Steamboat is so small, I am afraid to post anything about it here now that I've started thinking about it. But your post about your law firms services give me hope that I could possible seek help without needing to come up with a huge amount of money on the spot. Your advice was good. I have been becoming an expert on slander, libel, stalking, and defamation/defamation per se for about a year now...as much of an expert as a counselor can be.

Posted

Generally, defamation claims are difficult to establish and not very worthwhile to pursue. However, the activity you describe is pretty serious and it might be worth considering a lawsuit.

The main thing you have to consider is whether, even if you win, the lawsuit is gong to have the desired effect. The woman you describe sounds unbalanced. Will a lawsuit cause her to stop what she has been doing or simply fuel her actions? Will getting a money judgment against her deter her actions? Does she have money or property to satisfy a judgment? A civil judgment is only a piece of paper unless you can collect it.

You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or info@Harkess-Salter.com. Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.

Asker

Posted

The woman in question has a reputation for behaving very erratically, I guess I would say. Any action on my part if probably going to fuel her actions. But...I have tried to pretend it's not happening, forget about it...and it is not going away. I have to make her stop. I've decided I must take action. She is actually extremely wealthy. Which is why I have not done anything so far. I am so afraid of her having access to lawyers and me having none. She has a trust fund, has never worked, lives in a 2 million dollar home etc...A money judgement would absolutely be collectible. I am not the only person she has harassed in our town. I'm fairly certain others would come forward if they knew someone was fighting back. People, including myself, are very afraid of her. I am filing a restraining order this week. Have been working with a victim's advocates group in town.

Stephen Clark Harkess

Stephen Clark Harkess

Posted

The accusations on criminal activity are serious and would support an action for defamation per se. If you have access to the letter it may be worth pursuing. These cases can be somewhat expensive to pursue however.

Asker

Posted

I have access to the letters. But am very poor.

Asker

Posted

And as an aside....I mentioned I went to the police above. The police referred me to the victim's advocates place in order to help me write the order of protection correctly. And they did not take a report because the latest incident, in the car, took place outside of their jurisdiction and they said I need to see the Sheriff's Dept. But, the recommended I talk to the victim's right's place first. So I did. Just wanted to clear that up because as I read the above paragraph, it sounded suspect that I went to the police, but they didn't do anything about said incident.

Asker

Posted

*they recommended victim's *rights (grammar problems)

Posted

Without a monetary loss, a defamation lawsuit will likely cost you thousands more than you would recover, and most defamation lawyers want at least 5k up front. A restraining order is always a good idea.

Licensed in PA & NJ. 29% Contingency Fee. Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com

Asker

Posted

Thank you. I am on it. :)

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