Sunday, May 14, 2006

Man4Abuse and Harrassment

Nick Tarzia, a Fathers & Families member who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, has filed a lawsuit against a former Massachusetts girlfriend who took out a fraudulent restraining order against him. He has charged her with defamation and slander, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other wrongful actions. Jeffrey Denner, a well-known Boston attorney, represents Mr. Tarzia.

Mr. Tarzia is a successful businessman in Connecticut, and was Vice President of the Stamford Board of Education. He was also active in charitable and educational endeavors.

In September, 2003, he began dating C.M., a resident of Wellesley, Massachusetts. He noticed that she was violently jealous when she suspected possible relationships with other women. She spied into his private affairs, and occasionally swung at and hit him, according to his court complaint. He never retaliated in any manner.

Mr. Tarzia ended the relationship in late December, 2003. Over the next two months, C.M. telephoned him at least 80 times, threatening to tell other people that he had been convicted of using cocaine (contrary to the facts), as well as other threats and demands. Some of the calls were hang-ups used to harass him.

On February 26, 2004, Mr. Tarzia went about his business in Connecticut as usual. On that day, however, C.M. sought and obtained an exparte 209A restraining order in Dedham Court in Massachusetts. Among other things, she accused him of following her in his car.

At the ten day hearing before Judge Lynda Connelly, Mr. Tarzia presented at least ten sworn affidavits from individuals who had observed him in and around Stamford, Connecticut the entire day. He also presented store receipts with date and time indicating the same thing. Nevertheless, Judge Connelly granted the restraining order.

At considerable expense, Mr. Tarzia returned to court in October, 2004. At the hearing, C.M. admitted that some of her prior sworn statements were false. Moreover, Mr. Tarzia was able to produce witnesses and documentation in support of his case, including cell phone records. The cell phone records indicate that C.M. telephoned him at least twice on February 26 (the day she obtained the restraining order). More important, they indicate the physical location of the cell phone when used, and these showed without question that he was in the Stamford area the entire day. The Dedham District Court vacated the restraining order (something that might not be easy today, as a result of the terrible recent decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Mitchell v. Mitchell, of which we recently informed our readership.)

In the meantime, however, someone had leaked information about the claimed drug conviction and the restraining order to the Stamford newspaper. Mr. Tarzia was forced to resign from the Stamford Board of Education because of the false allegations and damage to his reputation.

He is now fighting back in court.

Fortunately for Mr. Tarzia, he has not shared a home, assets or children with C.M. If he did, he could not possibly retaliate against her spiteful actions without adverse consequences in the family court, typically, that he was "controlling," or was trying to harass her. Moreover, any money damages he might win from her would only come back out of his own pocket later, when the court found that her impoverishment required him to give her more assets, child support or alimony.

Somehow, the Massachusetts courts must get serious about the harm that is done by fraudulent restraining orders. In addition to the obvious harm to Mr. Tarzia, those people who truly need protection from an intimate partner are imperiled when the time of the police and courts is wasted on fraudulent cases such as this.


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