LACONIA — A year after a Gilmanton Police sergeant was fired for alleged sexual harassment, a Belknap County Superior Court judge has ordered that his dismissal may have violated his rights of due process and he can have a trial to try and get his job back.
Dennis Rector claimed he was denied due process because he was not notified that he could possibly be fired by the selectmen when they told him to attend a non-public hearing to discuss the complaint filed against him, and Judge James Barry agreed.
After yesterday’s hearing Barry ruled that “the court finds there are a plethora of genuine issues of material fact…the issue of due process is a legal question that can only be determined/decided after a full evidentiary hearing.” In his two page ruling he denied both requests for summary judgment presented by both Rector and the town of Gilmanton.
Despite special town attorney Andrew Livernois’s statements, when Barry asked him for a piece of paper that showed Rector was being charged with A, B, C or D, he admitted there was none.
To be determined in a evidentiary hearing are whether or not Rector was given sufficient notice of the allegations upon which the selectmen based their determination; if he was denied due process because he was entitled to have an attorney and present evidence and witnesses during the selectmen’s hearing; whether he was given ample notice of the specific allegations and whether or not he was given sufficient notice that he could be fired for the allegations.
The trial will also determine if the town violated the Right-to-Know law and if the town had cause to fire him.
A pretrial conference worksheet filed yesterday indicate the Rector is seeking $75,000 in damages and the town has offered him $30,000. The estimated length of the trial, should their be no settlement, is two days and the judge ruled the settlement potential as “fair.”
Potential witnesses for Rector include former Selectman Elizabeth Abbott, Robin Bonan, Gilmanton Police Officer Matt Currier, Gilmanton Police officer Stacie Fiske, former Selectman Don Guerino, current Selectman Rachel Hatch, Gilmanton Police Chief Phillip O’Brien, Deputy Sheriff David Perkins and Gilmanton Police Officer Cory Krochmal.
The town has said it will call Hatch and Abbott as well as Town Attorney Walter Mitchell and Rector. The town noticed that it may call O’Brien and Fiske.
Guerino, Abbott and Hatch were the three selectmen who determined Rector should be fired. All three were in court yesterday.
The court gave the week of April 16 as the target trial date.