Members of the Methuen Police Superior Officer’s Union have hired a First Amendment attorney to investigate and possibly sue Methuen City Councilors (and a private individual) for defamation, libel, and slander.
Andover Attorney, Peter Caruso has sent a letter to members of the Methuen City Council and the city solicitor, demanding that they preserve any and all of councilors emails, letters, written documents, and electronic communications to prevent them from being destroyed, lost, or misplaced, as they may contain evidence of defamation against the Methuen police officers and their families.
“To learn more, to see more, our clients have asked that all possible information to substantiate or not substantiate these reputation damaging defamation matters be preserved – and not be destroyed, lost, or accidentally misplaced.” Preservation Letter to Councilors May 11 2020
“We are investigating allegations of libel and defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and doxing (Claims) directly related to the actions of several Councilors, both in their official capacities, as well as their capacities as private citizens and other third party individuals,” Attorney Caruso’s letter to the city council states.
“The line of defamation has been crashed” he told The Valley Patriot. “
A first amendment attorney who represents newspapers against defamation and libel cases since 1979, Attorney Caruso said that in this case he seems to be on the other side because he believes the First Amendment has been abused.
“Uninhibited, robust, and wide-open discussions, praise and criticism of Methuen Public Officials doing their job is a protected First Amendment right,” Caruso told The Valley Patriot.
“I believe the First Amendment is absolute. The courts and the public, however, do not. A line has been drawn. That line is Truth. For public officials – speaker or writer – they must know what they say is true or have reason to believe it is true – you cannot just make it up. That line cannot be crossed.”
“After weeks of review, private and public individuals in Methuen have crashed over and through this defamation line. My years of experience have caused me concern for my clients’ reputations.”
Asked if he would disclose which elected members of the city council or which private individual(s) are the focus of his investigation, Caruso said revealing that would be premature.
“We will not comment on specific defamatory allegations or individuals. Public meetings, online publications, and media reports are all available to see and hear these defamatory and false allegations.”
Caruso said he would not have sent the letter to preserve documents and electronic communications if he did not believe the law had been broken.”