Preston registrar files for court protective order against former registrar

Preston — An ongoing rift between current Registrar Cheryl Roberts and former Registrar Norman Gauthier has escalated from election complaints filed against each other to an application filed by Roberts on Tuesday for a civil protection order in New London Superior Court.

Roberts, the current Democratic registrar, claimed that Gauthier, who resigned as Republican registrar this past summer, has continued to closely monitor her actions on the job, questioning the number of ballots she ordered, and remaining in the poll workers’ area at Town Hall after polls closed on election night specifically to watch her performance.

Roberts on Thursday called Gauthier’s actions “creepy,” especially on election night, when he specifically said he wanted to watch her after the polls closed.

“I would like this man removed from my life,” Roberts wrote in the application for a protection order. “No contact whatsoever! This man is spreading horrible stories about me.”

Gauthier said Thursday he was expecting Roberts’ application for a protective order, because she had said she planned to do so.

“I’m still laughing,” Gauthier said of his reaction upon receiving the court notice. “I thought it was an April Fool’s joke.”

New London Superior Court Judge Hillary B. Strackbein denied an immediate protective order in the application and set a hearing date for 2 p.m. Dec. 10 in New London Superior Court.

Gauthier denied the accusation of stalking, saying he has “interfaced” with Roberts only three times in the past six months: in July when he voted in the budget referendum; in the August primary campaign, when he campaigned for her opponent; and at the Nov. 6 election.

In summer, Roberts was not endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee in her election bid to remain the Democratic registrar. She petitioned for a primary and lost in the primary to incoming Democratic Registrar-elect Karen Stockton. Gauthier actively campaigned against Roberts during the August primary.

“I campaigned for her opponent, because of all this stuff going on,” Gauthier said. “I wanted to get her out of there for the best interest of the town.”

On Sept. 20, in response to being spurned by the Democratic Town Committee in the endorsement caucus, Roberts changed her registration to Republican, a move that will become official three months from the change.

Gauthier, the current Republican Town Committee chairman, sent Roberts an email in what Roberts termed in the protective order application as a “nasty tone” backhandedly welcoming her to the Republican Party and asking if she would want to join the town committee.

“Since you are a Republican town official, I hope that you will consider becoming a member of the Republican Town Committee,” Gauthier wrote. “If you come to our next meeting, we will review your request for membership. I cannot guarantee acceptance because most people know that you have been rejected by the Democrat Town Committee, rejected by a Town-wide Democrat Caucus, and rejected by voting Democrats in their August primary. However, the RTC is always seeking new younger members and may overlook your behavioral problems and your reputation for dishonesty, deceitfulness, and nastiness. This isn't Bridgeport, but you could try.”

Gauthier said he has no regrets about sending the Nov. 7 email.

“It’s satire,” he said. “It’s not a crime.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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