This is Episode 11 in the story of the formation, rise and fall of the little education collective that used to exist up here on our mountain. I wrote and posted this account three years ago on my blog and then pulled it off because someone whose name I had not changed, objected. Now I have changed both the name of the little school itself, and the names of everyone who might be negatively impacted, and plan to re-post the story, one episode per day, until all 32 are again on my blog.
That March night, when I had drawn little consolation that the restraining order was mutual, seemed a distant memory as I weighed Barry Vogel’s words now. It felt nice to have the tiller in my hand for once even if it was a continuation of a battle begun by Imika, in a war also initiated by her.
Now I surveyed the “verified complaint for damages (libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress) and injunctive relief” document that resulted from the August 7th, 1989 civil suit against Imika. This document detailed the causes of the libel suit that was filed after the injunction for prohibiting harassment was settled.
In other words the first thing Barry did was get the actions that Imika had performed documented and addressed to prevent further vexation, and then he went after the letter itself, the ultimate purpose being to prevent a repetition of Imika’s vitriol being targeted at me. After establishing that the defendant had stated to plaintiff’s wife that she would “get [her] husband,” Barry went on to detail the points in the letter written to Dominican that besmirched my good name and/or my reputation.
He stated that “on or about July 17, 1989, without permission, authority or privilege, defendant wrote a letter to the Dominican College Off Campus Program, which stated in part:
that plaintiff and all members of Wellspring are ‘professional liars,’ and that Wellspring ‘operates like a cult.’
that defendant’s ‘daughter’s life was threatened because of [plaintiff’s] reckless driving.’ that defendant is ‘the plaintiff in a lawsuit due to severe corruption and a conspiracy and cover up of which Mr. O’Neill is involved.’
that plaintiff ‘has slandered my name...in our town at some businesses...’
that Bell Springs operates ‘in a very corrupt manner and [is] using Mr. O’Neill to further their ends...’
that ‘there is an obvious conspiracy directed at me and my daughter, of which Mr. O’Neill is a part...’
a recommendation ‘to put a hold on any certification plans to Mr. O’Neill...’
a request that ‘before any credentials are granted that you please wait for further information due to the adverse effects and corruption by the manner in which [Wellspring] operates...’
that ‘Mr. O’Neill is trying to seek the position through your college in order for Wellspring to continue operating under the guise of Contract Teaching...’”
At this point Barry wrote, “The entire letter is false as it pertains to the plaintiff. It is libelous on its face. It clearly exposes plaintiff to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it was written and sent to Dominican College, to which the plaintiff has applied for admission.
This letter was received and read by Susan Rounds, Ph. D, Director of the Dominican Off-Campus Program in Ukiah, California on or about July 25, 1989.
As a proximate result of the above-described letter, plaintiff has suffered loss of his reputation, shame, mortification, and hurt feelings all to his general damage in an amount within the jurisdiction of this court.
The above described letter was written and sent by the defendant with malice and fraud in that it was sent to the Dominican College, an institution of higher learning to which plaintiff has applied in furtherence of his profession, and thus plaintiff seeks an award of punitive damages against defendant in an amount within the jurisdiction of the court.
There was a second cause of action, the intentional infliction of emotional distress, but the content of Barry’s statement closely resembled the content that I have just noted. Interestingly, we had still another judge for this case, but his ruling was consistent with those of the first two judges.
This is what he wrote: “The court finds that taken as a whole, the letter which the defendant wrote, on July 17th, 1989, to the Dominican College is libelous per se. The court specifically finds that the following statement contained in the letter is libelous per se:
‘This entire situation and the way this group operates is riddled with corruption. This group operates like a cult and my daughter and I have been severely victimized by their dishonesty many times in the past.’
The court further finds sufficient conduct on the part of the plaintiff was not proven to cause an injunction to be issued. It is hereby ordered that judgment shall be entered for the plaintiff Mark O’Neill and against the defendant Corrine Chintz in the cause of action for libel, and that nominal damages in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be awarded in favor of the plaintiff Mark O’Neill and against the defendant Corrine Chintz, plus actual court costs.”
With the conclusion of the libel case, I now had four legal battles under my belt with four victories, if you consider the fact that during the very first foray into the legal battleground, though I was bound by a restraining order, so was Imika, and I hadn’t even thought to ask for the restraining order to be mutual. I guess I just never thought someone would go after me like she had. Add to that the road easement victory, the injunction to prevent harassment, and the libel suit. Imika had initiated two of the lawsuits, and I had initiated two of them. We were halfway to the finish line.