Defendants in Belfast defamation lawsuit file response, deny accusations

Tue, 06/15/2021 - 3:30pm

    BELFAST — A lawyer for the eight defendants, including two Belfast City Councilors, who were named in a civil lawsuit alleging harassment and defamation filed a response May 27 denying the majority of the claims.

    Attorney Christopher MacLean, of the Camden-based Dirigo Law Group, represents the eight defendants. 

    The suit, filed May 7, by Belfast residents R.M. Woodford, and her daughter April Walker, alleges that the eight spread damaging rumors about them following a disagreement about a potential change in Belfast zoning. 

    Woodford and Walker, who live on Church Street, claimed that the alleged harassment began in 2019, when Woodford moved into the home. It is alleged in the suit that the harassment may have been due to Walker’s opposition to rezoning their own property and that of the former Peirce School. The proposal, which was discussed in 2015, would have allowed the former school to be turned into apartments, although the project did not come to fruition. 

    It is alleged in the suit that the defendants spread rumors that the home owned by the plaintiffs is a “brothel, bordello, or center for human sex trafficking.” Both Neal Harkness and Michael Hurley, who are the two Councilors named in the suit, have previously denied the allegations. 

    MacLean, writing on behalf of his clients, said in the response that the: “Defendants are without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations contained in [the respective paragraph] of Plaintiffs’ Complaint, and therefore, deny the same.”

    Some allegations, which do not include the specific harassment, are answered affirmatively. An example of such is the claim made in the original complaint that the defendants feel “no shame” with regard to the alleged conduct, which the defendants affirmed via their lawyer who noted, the defendants feel no shame because they have done nothing wrong.

    The response continues in part, “The defendants deny that they have attacked the Plaintiffs in any way, did not post any of the content alleged, and otherwise deny the allegations set forth in [the respective paragraph] of Plaintiffs’ Complaint.”

    Each of the defendants also denied the specific allegations of defamation made against them. 

    For each of the four counts named in the complaint, the Defendants in the case have requested, “judgment against the Plaintiffs, with costs and attorney fees as may be allowed by law, and that Defendants be awarded any other relief the Court deems just and proper,” according to MacLean’s Answer and Affirmative Defense. 

    The affirmative defenses made in the document include that the Plaintiffs failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted and that the Plaintiffs’ claims are barred because the Defendants have not made or published the alleged statements.

    There are 12 total affirmative defenses listed in MacLean’s Answer to the lawsuit.

    Erica Thoms can be reached at