Stonington finance board to discuss woman's lawsuit against First Selectman Ed Haberek

Stonington - The Board of Finance has scheduled a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss its concerns about spending town money to fight the lawsuit a Pawcatuck woman has filed against First Selectman Ed Haberek.

Board of Finance Chairman Glenn Frishman said Friday that he has scheduled the executive session for 7 p.m. at the police station.

He said that he has asked Haberek, Town Attorney Thomas Londregan and town labor attorney Michael Satti to be attendance.

Frishman said the finance board members, the majority of whom agreed to the session, want to discuss the lawsuit filed by Tracy Swain against Haberek and the town and make sure taxpayers are protected.

"They want answers," he said.

Frishman added that he does not think the town should be involved in the lawsuit.

"But that's my personal opinion and I'm not an attorney," he said. "Our only concern is to protect the taxpayers."

The suit states that prior to Jan. 12, 2010, Haberek had extensive telephone, email, text message and Facebook communication with Swain. When Swain told him on that date to stop sending the messages, he allegedly sent her "sexually graphic photos of himself" on his town-issued BlackBerry.

In the lawsuit, Swain's attorney, Scott Camassar, said she has sued the town in part because it has interfered with her effort to obtain evidence about Haberek from the town's cellphone provider.

In court documents, Camassar has argued "the wrongs perpetuated by Mr. Haberek in sending photos to the plaintiff constitute a private civil matter between him and the plaintiff."

But over the past month, Satti, the town's labor attorney, has filed several motions in the case - called Swain vs. Cellco Partnership - seeking to prevent the disclosure of the phone records and stopping Haberek's deposition.

The suit states that the town assumed liability for Haberek's actions when it declared or implied that Haberek was an agent of the town at the time of the incident.

The Day filed a freedom of information request with the town Tuesday seeking copies of the legal bills it has incurred so far in the case. As of Friday, the town had not provided those bills.

Swain claims Haberek's conduct has caused her emotional distress and physical injury, and she continues to suffer from migraine headaches.

The suit further charges that the town allowed Haberek to contact Swain inappropriately and let him transmit graphic photos of himself using town equipment and a phone number assigned to the town. It also alleges that the town failed to monitor Haberek's communications with Swain and failed to have a policy or enforce a policy regarding proper use of town equipment and electronic communications.

Two years ago, Swain had complained about the alleged incident to state police, who investigated and determined no crime had been committed.

During that probe, state police seized Haberek's town-issued BlackBerry and computer, and obtained a search warrant for hundreds of pages of his Facebook messages and postings. The Day requested access to that information, but the state Freedom of Information Commission ruled that state police did not have to release them.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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