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Judge to rule on restraining order against New Ipswich Budget Committee member

Union Leader Correspondent

February 21. 2018 10:15PM
New Ipswich Town Clerk Jessica Olson leaves a hearing over a temporary restraining order protecting her from a Budget Committee member. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

New Ipswich Budget Committee member Alan Doyle appears in Keene district court Wednesday over allegations he sexually harassed the town clerk and caused her fear. (Meghan Pierce/ Union Leader Correspondent)

NEW IPSWICH — A temporary restraining order hearing involving New Ipswich town officials and allegations of sexual harassment concluded in Keene District Court on Wednesday.

Representing New Ipswich Budget Committee member Alan Doyle, attorney Steve Bonnette said his client is not an “ongoing, credible threat” to Town Clerk Jessica Olson and therefore a temporary restraining order protecting Olson from Doyle should be dropped.

“There is no allegation that Alan has threatened her in any way at all,” Bonnette said. “He’s never done anything against her except flicking the back of her shirt one time.”

Olson was granted a temporary restraining by Jaffrey District Court protecting her from Olson on Feb. 5. Olson alleges Doyle lifted up her blouse twice at the town offices on Dec. 5 and that Doyle made comments both times, the first time he said he was “peeking” and the second time that he was “gawking.”

Doyle told his side of the story in court, saying he had flicked the back of her shirt once and said “Woo, Woo.”

She filed for the restraining order after town officials told Doyle he had violated the town’s sexual harassment policy, and that he should make an appointment with Town Administrator Joanne Meshna before coming to the town offices for any business.

Doyle, however, continued to come to the town offices for selectmen and Budget Committee meetings and to file for office — all without contacting Meshna or anyone else at the town offices first.

Olson said his visits made her nervous and made her feel intimidated, causing her to file the petition for a restraining order.

At the continuation of the hearing Wednesday, Olson’s attorney, Joseph Hoppock, called Olson’s assistant Wendy Drouin to the stand to corroborate Olson’s Friday testimony.

Bonnette, however, said testimony from Olson and Drouin only show that Doyle was never a threat based on the women’s inaction.

“If someone is in fear of their safety they take action,” Bonnette said. “Her assistant certainly could have gone and gotten a police officer.”

On top of that Bonnette said, Doyle, his wife — former Selectman Rebecca Doyle — and another New Ipswich resident all testified on Friday that Doyle and Olson had a flirty relationship that started at a 2015 pool party at the Doyles’ house and that Olson had hugged and kissed Doyle in public on a regular basis.

Olson denied these claims, saying she has never kissed Doyle.

“How would he know that was going to cause her fear based on the testimony they regularly hugged and kissed,” Bonnette said.

Going to the town offices for Budget Committee business is a constitutionally protected activity, Bonnette said, adding Doyle fears he will be arrested based on the restraining order, which would cause him to lose his job.

Judge Erin B. McIntyre said she will review the nearly four hours of testimony given both Wednesday in Keene and in the Jaffrey District Court on Friday.

McIntyre said she expects to have a decision by the end of the week.

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