Caitlin McCann, an employee of MVHS, has won her defamation lawsuit against former Oneida County Executive candidate, Dave Gordon.
Gordon lost a Republican primary to current county executive, Anthony Picente, in June, 2019. Around that time, Gordon publicly claimed that McCann had an affair with Picente, that the two had a child, and that McCann benefitted financially from the affair with the married county executive.
"Despite Gordon's self-serving claim to the press over a year ago that he had actual evidence of the corruption and affair, he offers none to this Court. Innuendo is not evidence, and an individual who publicly spreads rumors that are not based in fact will be held liable for the damage that he causes," said NYS Supreme Court judge, the Hon. Scott DelConte, in his decision Wednesday. DelConte directed McCann to file a trial note of issue within 60 days, which would pave the way for a trial on damages to be scheduled.
McCann declined comment. We reached out to her attorney, Eva Brindisi Pearlman, and have not heard back.
In his decision, Justice DelConte said the burden of proof lies with Gordon.
"...McCann does not have to prove that Gordon's statements were false; instead, Gordon bears the burden of proving that his statements were true. And Gordon fails to submit any evidence, admissable or otherwise, that Ms. McCann had an affair with Picente, received improper financial gain, or became pregnant with his child."
Gordon disagrees with the judge.
"To show malicious intent, you really have to prove that what was said was not true, and that's up to the plainiff, never up to the defendant in any civil matter,"says Gordon.
Gordon also says it's not over yet.
"I've already filled notice of appeal which means it's been filed with NYS Supreme Court with all the required documents. I have 60 days to perfect that appeal and move it forward. I'm also going to be asking the appelate court for an order to stay on the damages trial."
The judge also dismissed Gordon's defamation suit against Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente, claiming Picente publicly discussed an old arrest report that should have been sealed. Picente's attorney says it's more difficult for a public figure to prove slander, defamation and libel, than it is for a private citizen, and, that Picente has more important things to do, than go after Gordon in court.
"He will stand on being vindicated by a court of law," says Attorney Robert F. Julian. "I know he does not believe that his role as county executive, especially in this very taxing time when he's organizing the Covid effort, his place is not in the courtroom..."