Defending Haberek, Stonington in suits has cost $16,000

Stonington - The town and its insurance provider have now spent $16,000 defending First Selectman Ed Haberek and the town against two lawsuits filed by Tracy Swain.

The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency recently reported to the town that it has spent $13,590 in legal fees in Swain's case against Haberek and the town, in which she alleges he sent her sexually graphic photos of himself using his town-issued BlackBerry.

Haberek has admitted in a deposition that he sent Swain a pornographic image of another man from his home computer on the night of Jan. 12, 2010, as they were having one of their many online conversations. He said he sent it to her as a joke, but Swain has said the experience caused her continued emotional distress and physical illness and worsened the migraine headaches she has had since age 9. She is seeking up to $500,000 in monetary damages after Haberek rejected her initial offer to quietly settle the case for $95,000.

Town officials have said CIRMA would likely pay any damages to Swain if the town is also found liable for Haberek's action. Legal fees and damages could affect the town's insurance rates.

The town has also paid town labor attorney Michael Satti $2,411 to fight Swain's attempt to get Haberek's cellphone records in her case against Cellco Partnership (doing business as Verizon Wireless). Both cases are still pending in New London Superior Court.

Haberek has testified that he and Swain were both having trouble in their marriages when they began to have "mutual, consenting adult" conversations of a sexual nature after the November 2009 election.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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