Woman suing Haberek offers Stonington a way out of lawsuit

Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek, left, discusses a lawsuit against him and the Town of Stonington with Selectman Glee McAnanly Wednesday during the bimonthly selectman's meeting.
Buy Photo Tim Martin/The Day Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek, left, discusses a lawsuit against him and the Town of Stonington with Selectman Glee McAnanly Wednesday during the bimonthly selectman's meeting.

Stonington - Last week, some town officials said they were looking for a way to extricate the town from the Tracy Swain lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Swain gave them one.

The attorney for Swain, who has sued the town and First Selectman Ed Haberek after he allegedly sent her sexually graphic photos of himself using his town-issued BlackBerry, offered to release the town from the lawsuit if Haberek meets several conditions.

According to the offer, Haberek must immediately turn over the photos that he allegedly sent to Swain on Jan. 12, 2010; admit that he used the BlackBerry to do so; and provide documentation about the time he sent the photos and where he was at the time. Swain has said Haberek told her he was in his Town Hall office when he sent the photos.

Haberek and the town have fought Swain's legal attempt to obtain evidence of the photos from Verizon, the town's cellphone provider. Last week, the town said it would no longer fight the release of those records, in hopes of being removed from the suit.

If Haberek will not agree to these terms, Swain's attorney, Scott Camassar of North Stonington, has offered the town a second option.

In this scenario, Haberek must agree to pay for an analysis of his BlackBerry, computer and other devices that were in his possession on Jan. 12, 2010, by an independent computer forensics expert. Only the three parties in the suit would have access to the information and "any data unrelated to this incident need not be disclosed," according to the offer.

In addition, Haberek must consent to the release of material seized by state police with a search warrant after Swain made a complaint about the incident. Police found that no crime had been committed.

He also must agree to an attachment of his property and assets unless he demonstrates proof of adequate insurance to cover any potential damages that could be awarded by a jury.

Camassar outlined the terms of the two deals in a letter to Town Attorney Thomas Londregan. Camassar said if Haberek does not agree to either scenario, Swain will proceed with the lawsuit against the town and Haberek.

Last week, Board of Finance members expressed concern about why the town was embroiled in a lawsuit involving Haberek's alleged personal conduct. Members also were worried about how much the suit eventually could cost the town in legal fees and damages.

At Wednesday night's Board of Selectmen's meeting, Haberek said he had not yet seen the letter. After the meeting, he said he would not be making any comments on the lawsuit.

During the meeting, Haberek said the allegations being made by Camassar and Swain are false.

Selectwoman Glee McAnanly unsuccessfully suggested that the board go into executive session to discuss Camassar's letter.

When McAnanly said she had received a copy of the letter a few hours before the meeting and had spoken to Londregan about it, Haberek grilled her about who had given her the letter. He asked McAnanly if she had been speaking with Swain. McAnanly said she had not and had received the letter from another source, whom she would not identify.

McAnanly told Haberek she was not trying to attack him, but the town has a situation ''that I'd like to get ahead of."

Selectman George Crouse, who had not seen the letter, said it was too early to discuss and he would like Londregan to be in attendance when they did. Haberek, too, opposed going into the closed-door session.

Both Crouse and McAnanly have said they have not yet decided whether they will ask Haberek to recuse himself from discussions about the lawsuit. Haberek has said he has not yet decided whether he would recuse himself.

Swain's suit states that prior to Jan. 12, 2010, Haberek had extensive telephone, email, text message and Facebook communication with her. When Swain told him on that date to stop sending the messages, he allegedly sent her the photos of himself. The suit charges that the town has not only interfered with Swain's attempt to get evidence of the calls from Haberek, but has failed to enforce its policy about use of communications equipment by town employees.

j.wojtas@theday.com

Town policy

Stonington's policy on use of electronic communication devices states:
They cannot be used to harass anyone.
They should be used for town business. Personal communications should not be done on town equipment.
All records of their use are town records and subject to release to law enforcement, government officials and third parties.
The town can access any equipment it feels is being used improperly and can perform random reviews of employee equipment to ensure compliance.

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