Robert Bittar, see in 2018, has a longstanding dispute with the town that officials allege has escalated into harassment of Town Manager Eric Dyer and his family. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Readfield officials say a man with a longstanding dispute with the town harassed Town Manager Eric Dyer and his family, prompting Dyer to obtain a protection from harassment order and temporary restraining order.

That resulted in the recent arrest of 81-year-old Robert Bittar for allegedly violating a protection order.

Readfield Town Manager Eric Dyer, left, talks to Fire Chief Lee Mank during a tour of the Readfield Fire Department’s Harriman Station in 2019. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Bittar’s attorney, meanwhile, said he hasn’t harassed anyone and the situation is “a classic example of government overreach attempting to crush the voice of the little guy.”

In a statement posted on the town’s website, the Readfield Select Board states that Dyer, town manager for the last seven years, has become “the singular focus and obsession of Robert Bittar” and that Bittar’s contempt for the manager has now expanded to include engaging with Dyer’s wife and two young children. They said Bittar recently purchased a home adjacent to Dyer’s family’s home in Readfield.

They said a protection from harassment order, sought by Dyer against Bittar, was issued in court July 20, but Bittar continued to “escalate” his behavior.

Bittar was arrested the morning of Aug. 1, on Old Kents Hill Road, on a charge of violation of a protection order, according to Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office documents.


“We find the behavior of Mr. Bittar reprehensible and it is our duty to protect the town manager, as we would any employee, from undergoing this type of harassment,” Select Board members wrote in their joint statement issued after the Aug. 3 meeting. “The Readfield Select Board supports Eric Dyer, and we vehemently reject the engagement of Eric’s wife, children and home in this unusual vendetta. It is our intention to protect and defend Eric while this behavior seeps from the public sector and into the private life of the town manager.”

The board statement said Bittar “is still free to engage in town business at Gile Hall and is in no way restricted from the rights and privileges of a Readfield citizen,” but “the situation has caused great anxiety and stress, not just for Eric and his family, but for all of Readfield.”

Darrick Banda, an attorney representing Bittar, said his client will be vindicated of any wrongdoing.

“There’s been no harassment,” Banda said in an emailed statement. “Our client is an 81-year-old philanthropist who has done nothing but selflessly dedicate his time and resources to making Readfield a better place to live. He is kind-hearted, even a bit frail, and is certainly not someone who anyone looking at him should be afraid of. The dispute has its roots in small-town politics. As little fiefdoms go, this is a classic example of government overreach attempting to crush the voice of the little guy.”

Robert Bittar, see in 2018, has a longstanding dispute with the town that officials allege has escalated into harassment of Town Manager Eric Dyer and his family. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Kurt Peterson, an attorney with McKee Law representing Dyer, said Bittar crossed the line from a longstanding property dispute with the town to a personal vendetta that he has brought to Dyer’s home. He said Bittar repeatedly drives and walks by the Dyers’ home, and also sits outside their home watching their property “for hours on end causing, understandably, a great amount of distress and concern.”

“Eric obtained a protection from harassment order when Mr. Bittar threatened him after a town meeting by making a gun gesture with his hand,” Peterson said in an email. “Mr. Bittar then blatantly violated the court’s order by contacting Eric multiple times after the order was served on him. He also trespassed on the Dyers’ property following service of the order.”


A hearing scheduled at the Capital Judicial Center on Tuesday to consider the protection from harassment complaint filed by Dyer against Bittar was postponed after lawyers for both sides said they anticipate the hearing will take about two hours, and asked that it be rescheduled for when the court has more time, which the judge approved. The judge said she did not yet know when the hearing would be held.

A temporary restraining order, filed by Dyer and granted by the court last week, orders Bittar to refrain from entering Dyer’s property and from cutting trees on his own property along the property line between their lots, until a disputed property line can be established.

Peterson said Bittar has trespassed onto the Dyers’ property at least twice since he purchased the abutting property and has threatened to cut down trees on their property and “boasted about his plans to throw parties at the property with loud music, all with the endgame of harassing Eric.”

Bittar has been in a long-running dispute with the town over his efforts to use a barn, outfitted like a pub with tables and chairs and a bar, he built to host musical concerts and serve as a community gathering spot. He named the barn, where he also lived, “Helen’s Barn” after his late wife. He later sought, also unsuccessfully, to change the zoning of the area around the property, to a zone where that use would be more likely to be allowed. He hosted a number of free concerts there after he was unable to get a town permit for public gatherings there.

Bittar unsuccessfully ran for the Select Board this year. He owns the Readfield Emporium, a restaurant and live music venue in town. He said, in a June post on the Emporium’s Facebook page, that it and the barn where he sought to host concerts will remain closed.

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