Town settles with former clerk over harassment charge

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FARMINGTON — A month after swearing at and shoving a Strong town official, a former town clerk has agreed to stop harassing people at the Town Office, according to court records.

The agreement between the town of Strong and former Town Clerk Eunice Shurtleff was reached Wednesday, avoiding a protection from harassment hearing in district court.

On April 23, Shurtleff ordered photocopies of selectmen meeting minutes but objected to paying for them. When she offered to trade a ream of paper for the photocopies, town officials showed her a section from the Maine Municipal Association Municipal Officer’s Manual that states the town has the right to charge for copies.

Words escalated to yelling and swearing, according to court records. Shurtleff was asked to keep her voice down and to leave the office. After several minutes, Milton Baston, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, attempted to call the sheriff’s office and was pushed up against a desk by Shurtleff, who also placed her hand on his arm to stop him, according to records.

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Baston paid the $7 for the photocopies and Shurtleff left. He later called police and filed a complaint.

A temporary restraining order was granted on May 3. It forbid Shurtleff from harassing town officials and employees and prevented her from entering town offices, including the selectmen’s and clerk’s offices, or having contact with them except by telephone, letter, e-mail or through a third person.

According to court records, the protection from harassment complaint included affidavits from Baston, Pamela Kenniston, deputy treasurer/tax collector, and Sandra Mitchell, town treasurer/tax collector, that described assault, criminal threatening and/or reckless conduct during the April 23 incident.

On Wednesday, Judge Daniel Driscoll accepted the agreement that would allow Shurtleff to go the Strong Town Office for business but forbids her from harassing or intimidating any town employee or official. If Shurtleff violates the year-long order, she would be charge with a misdemeanor crime, Driscoll said.

“The town is satisfied,” Baston said Wednesday. “We’re glad it’s over and want to move on from here.”

Shurtleff, 72, said, “No comment,” in response to the proceedings on Wednesday afternoon. She served as town clerk for 18 years.

As part of the agreement, Shurtleff denied all allegations made by the town of Strong and agreed that whatever they alleged would not happen in the future, said Richard Sterns, Shurtleff’s attorney.

In her affidavit, Mitchell described Shurtleff’s behavior when visiting the Town Office on several occasions since her position as town clerk ended in 2007 as “insistent about wanting things now, demands service and is rude.”

abryant@sunjournal.com

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