NEW GLOUCESTER — Frank Staton has fired back.

The 41-year-old New Gloucester man, accused of threatening town officials, has countered with a civil suit, claiming he was slandered and defamed by the allegations.

Through a Lewiston attorney, Staton claims that statements made by Selectman Steven Libby and others were false and that they were harmful to Staton’s reputation, social standing and profession.

The suit specifically names Libby as the defendant.

The conflict between Staton and the town has been simmering for years and came to a head recently when news sources publicized the alleged threats.

Several people, including animal control officials, selectmen and the town manager, say Staton has made repeated threats and has referred to a “kill list” of names of people whom he says have wronged him.

Staton, who has not been charged, firmly denies the accusations. In their court complaint, his attorneys assert that Staton has been targeted by town leaders merely for criticizing the local government, including posting a sign calling for Libby’s ouster.

“Plaintiff Staton has from time-to-time lawfully raised issues of perceived corruption against certain members of New Gloucester town government including, without limitation upon the generality of the foregoing, Selectman Steven Libby,” according to the civil complaint filed by the firm Hornblower, Lynch, Rabasco & Van Dyke.

“Plaintiff Staton has lawfully — and entirely consistent with his rights of free speech and expression enshrined within the United States and Maine Constitutions — erected signage on Plaintiff Staton’s own real property calling for the ‘recall’ of Selectman Steven Libby. That signage was mysteriously destroyed in connection with associated vandalism of Plaintiff Staton’s property,” the document states.

In late May, Town Manager Paul First received an order for protection from harassment against Staton. In one document in support of the order, First wrote: “We are concerned for the safety of my employees, elected officials and myself. I understand that Mr. Staton carries a concealed weapon. He becomes easily agitated and ‘unhinged.’ Incidents have occurred without provocation. Recently his harassment has increased due to the passage of a citizen’s recall initiative. Mr. Staton has anti-government sentiments. I understand that he is a self-professed ‘sovereign citizen.’ I suspect Mr. Staton of recent vandalism activity.”

But Staton told the Sun Journal in May that he is guilty of nothing more than occasionally salty language.

“I’m not a criminal,” he told the newspaper. “I don’t threaten anybody in any shape, way or form. I may be verbal, maybe you call it colorful, in the way I say things. I may swear more than the average person, but I don’t threaten people.”

In the court complaint, attorney David J. Van Dyke asserts that Libby has acted with malice when he made allegations against Staton — at a town meeting and later reported in the Sun Journal.

At that meeting, First said of Staton: “What he’s clearly stated he’s doing is threatening the lives of any town officials. Everyone needs to be on guard.”

Staton has no criminal history of violence. Court records reveal a single conviction for criminal mischief in 1999.

He is seeking judgment against Libby, according to the civil action, “in an amount which will fairly compensate him, plus restitution, together with punitive and/or exemplary damages, together with his interest, costs and reasonable attorney fees, together with such other further and additional relief as the court deems just and appropriate.”


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