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Apr 19, 2016 12:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Judge Denies Southampton Justice Barbara Wilson's Request To Have Libel Suit Dismissed

Suffolk County Supreme Court dismissed Justice Barbara Wilson's request to drop a $2.2 million defamation suit against her filed by her neighbor Anthony Gugliotta.
Apr 20, 2016 11:27 AM

A State Supreme Court justice in Riverhead on Friday denied a request from Southampton Town and Village Justice Barbara Wilson seeking the dismissal of a $2.2 million defamation lawsuit.

The action was filed against Ms. Wilson in July by Tony Gugliotta, who lives next door on Elm Street in Southampton Village. Mr. Gugliotta claimed in the suit that Ms. Wilson defamed him in comments made at a public meeting a year ago.

“We’re pleased with the decision,” said Anton Borovina, the Melville-based attorney representing Mr. Gugliotta, adding that he looks forward to presenting Mr. Gugliotta’s case to a jury.

Filed last summer in State Supreme Court, the lawsuit alleges that Ms. Wilson slandered Mr. Gugliotta, accusing him of being a sexual predator and a pedophile, during a public meeting of the Southampton Village Architectural Review Board in April 2015. Ms. Wilson had said that Mr. Gugliotta installed a security camera on his house that was pointed directly at her young daughter’s bedroom window.

At the time of the meeting, Ms. Wilson had an application before the ARB to install an exterior staircase at the rear of her home, which she has since withdrawn.

The lawsuit states that after the April meeting—which was recorded—was adjourned, Ms. Wilson raised her voice and looked directly at Mr. Gugliotta and yelled, “You better stay away from my daughter!” in front of those in attendance.

Mr. Borovina said Ms. Wilson filed papers to have the suit dismissed in July on the grounds that she should not be held liable for what was said at a public meeting, arguing that statements at such meetings are protected from such actions.

If Ms. Wilson made her statements in front of the ARB chairman while the application was being discussed, they would have been protected, Mr. Borovina said, but they were made after the meeting had ended.

The suit seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages for slander, as well as another $1 million in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages for libel, since her comments were recorded and broadcast.

Calls to Brian Lester, the Amagansett-based attorney representing Ms. Wilson, were not immediately returned.

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