SOUTHBRIDGE – A local resident has named the Town of Southbridge, town manager Ron San Angelo and town councilor Esteban Carrasco, Jr. in a lawsuit alleging that his civil rights were violated. Scott J. Gibeault is named as the plaintiff in a U.S. District Court case filed May 29.
Gibeault is seeking $700,000 in damages. The suit asks first for damages in the amount of $350,000 and then an additional “exemplary and punitive damages in the amount of $350,000.”
The narrative for the claim states that Gibeault “wrote a story regarding the Town of Southbridge and Esteban Carrasco an elected official for the town of Southbridge on an internet site with roughly 35,000 readers 7800 being Southbridge residents”
Carrasco, pastor of House of Destiny Church in Southbridge, is currently seeking re-election to the town council. The lawsuit was filed exactly two weeks before election day.
Gibeault claims that approximately two days after he wrote a story criticizing House of Destiny’s rental of school property for church services and functions, he “arrived at the Southbridge Town Hall for it’s weekly 7:00 Town Hall meeting with all intention of taking the podium during its public forum” to further express criticism of the terms of the rental.
Gibeault claims that he did not participate in the citizens’ forum portion of the May 21 meeting because Carrasco caused the plaintiff to be harassed and intimidated, allegedly in anticipation of Gibeault’s comments.
Town manager Ron San Angelo commented that “From the point of view of the town the lawsuit has no merit” and that counsel had been engaged to protect the interests of the town.
“No one stopped anyone from speaking at a meeting, from what I can see. Councilor Clemence would have allowed him to speak if he had approached the podium,” remarks San Angelo. “Government has been open since I have been here,” he added.
Gibeault could not immediately be reached for comment. Check back with The Citizen Chronicle for any updates that become available.