District Court grants 1-year protection orders against Edgecomb man

Fri, 11/04/2022 - 4:45pm

    Wiscasset District Court Judge John Martin dismissed an initial request by Edgecomb Nov. 2, but later issued separate one-year protection orders barring Timothy Harrington from contacting residents Dawn Murray and Alan Whitman. In his ruling, Martin believed both Murray and Whitman had met the burden of proof in seeking a protection order against Harrington. Both Murray and Whitman presented evidence showing Harrington had harassed them through a series of emails regarding a property dispute, in Whitman’s case, and Freedom of Access Act requests, in Murray’s case. Both provided evidence showing Harrington sent numerous emails with an ominous tone and bizarre stories having nothing to do with the dispute.  

    “It is evident that the plaintiffs have met the burden of at least three incidents of threatening which the law requires, and I find in their favor,” Martin said. The protection order runs until Nov. 2, 2023 which prohibits from Harrington from contacting both plaintiffs either in-person, by phone, on social media or via email. But the order doesn’t prevent Harrington from doing business with the town of Edgecomb. Murray is in her third year as select board chairman and handles all FOAA requests.

    In the original complaint, Murray sought protection for herself, fellow board members Mike Smith and Ted Hugger and Code Enforcement Officer George Chase. But Martin ruled the harassment order could only be sought by a person or business, not a municipality. So he dismissed the town’s case. “Mr. Harrington has First Amendment protection. He is allowed to do business with town, and enter the municipal building. But if he wants to continue with Freedom of Access Act requests, he must do so through another person,” Martin said.

    Harrington, 53, became entangled in a controversy with Whitman and municipal officials this summer. He lives on River Road and became interested in seeking public records due to his plans for developing property he owns on River and Merry Island roads and pending litigation against Whitman.

    His first document request sought access to municipal records from 1972, according to  Murray. In her testimony, Murray explained the second email came the next day and, in the ensuing days, a flood of unwanted, strange and threatening emails followed.

    Murray is retired after serving 35 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard. In the Marines, she served in the Judge Advocate General’s corps and responded to numerous FOAA requests. “I’ve never been asked to produce a response within 24 hours until now,” she said. “In total, there were about 35 FOAA requests and around 300 emails from Mr. Harrington. One talked about him carrying his gun and crossbow during hunting season for protection.” 

    Whitman described a similar situation to Murray’s as he said Harrington sent him bizarre and strange emails which often included  “good and evil” connotations. “I talked to him about building my house, but he didn’t seem interested because COVID had just hit. This July, the emails started. He talked about a ‘Satanic plan’ and all kinds of strange things that had nothing to do with either one of our building projects. I feel like I need protection from this guy,” he said. 

    Harrington declined to cross-examine either Murray or Harrington. During his testimony, Harrington began describing how he became embroiled in the controversy with Whitman, and later the town. But the judge stopped him. Martin directed him to address evidence presented by the plaintiffs concerning  alleged threats and harassment. “I wrote the emails,” Harrington said. “I don’t care about these people. So go ahead, and give a 10-year protection order.”

    One of Harrington’s FOAA requests was the first page of all 2022 building applications. Murray placed them in a folder, and the bailiff presented them to Harrington during court.