Trouble with Nexus
The Onamia City Council was giving us the Silent Treatment
and continuing along the path of malfeasance.
I tried contacting Nexus Board members. I believed that
they must be unaware of the inappropriateness of their chosen location and
my goal was to convince them to choose an better place to build their sex
I remember contacting Janet Benway by email. I talked to
Tami Farrell-LaQua on the telephone. (She later resigned from the Board, but
I doubt if that had anything to do with me.) I tried contacting Fr. Jerry
Schik, and several other members of the Board. I tried contacting Jim
D'Angelo via phone and sent him emails.
I offered to personally find a better location for their
facility - and actually succeeded, although I never heard if they ever
looked at my suggestions.
Most notably, I contacted Peter Freeman. I hoped that he
would listen to us and honestly believed he would help us stop Nexus from
building in our neighborhood. Why? Because the chosen location was nextdoor
to an elderly widow who lived by herself; across the street from a woman
sick with cancer; next to a family with a 12-year-old child, close to
elderly folks including my mom, disabled citizens including myself, and most
importantly, within a few minutes run to two child day care centers, (a
little longer for a third one). As a social work professor, he would know
that this is not the place for sex offenders.
I had done my homework. I'd contacted other facilities and
they didn't give me the Silent Treatment. We talked. I received their
opinions that they would never put a juvenile sex offender facility in a
Besides, having been a college instructor myself, I
thought might carry some weight with Peter Freeman. (It didn't). I reached
Freeman by phone. As soon as I identified myself, he rudely "deferred" me to
Jim D'Angelo and hung up on me. I wrote him a follow-up email, to which he
did reply. He said, "Thank you for your interest in Nexus Treatment
I honestly did not intend to get Peter Freeman in trouble
or embarrassment when I contacted the head of the social work at St. Thomas.
I thought that if he refused to speak with me, maybe she could plead our
case. Please bear in mind that I am not a professional activist. I never
thought about "defamation" or a lawsuit. I was just trying to get Freeman to
listen to me. I should not have contacted his colleagues. Again, I didn't
intend to cause him embarrassment. I intended to have them set him straight.
It might seem dumb, but at the time I was up to my armpits
in alligators. (That's an idiom). Time was running out for my neighborhood.
And nobody would communicate with us. It was the Silent
So, whereas I did not intend to upset Peter Freeman, I
admit that I wanted to write something on my blog that would get Jim
D'Angelo's attention. With D'Angelo though, I wanted to walk up to the
line but not cross it. I thought I was careful not to say anything
defamatory. But back then, I hadn't yet had my legal education... All I knew
is that D'Angelo was a public figure, and that I had my First Amendment
Rights to free speech - as long as I spoke Truth or my opinion. That was
before I found out that there is no such thing as Freedom of Speech. Nor did
I realize that I could be sued for speaking the Truth and offering my
opinions. I didn't know that my words could be taken out of context or
For example, when I said that D'Angelo acted like a
"predator" who preyed on the elderly and "infirmed" (that infirmed was so
embarrassing. It should have been infirm), I had just read an article about
private correctional facilities who chose locations based upon the
vulnerabilities of the citizens - those without the power or money to fight
and oppose them. This was exactly what was happening in our neighborhood!
They twisted my words to mean I accused him of being a
I never did. I didn't think that way. My little world
didn't deal with sex offenders, crime, violence... My world consisted of my
family, my pets, my home, and my friends. My interests were music, nature,
video games, movies, and reading. My values were kindness, compassion, and
treating others as I would like to be treated. But I guess since they made
their living off of sexual predators, that's the way they took my statement.
I did not mean it that way. Honest.
I was probably baiting D'Angelo with my article "Can You
Hear Me Now". I know I was incredibly frustrated that nobody would
acknowledge my existence, let alone listen to my complaints.
The only means for me to communicate with them was through
my newspaper and blog. That was the only way I could "talk" to them.
Then I received a letter from Nexus lawyer Mark Manderfeld
demanding that I remove the defamatory statements from the Internet. The
trouble was - I could not comply because I didn't think I'd written anything
defamatory, and he refused to indicate what they found "offensive". How
could I remove it if they didn't tell me what it was? I believe they wanted
to scare me into shutting down the entire newspaper and blog.
No lawsuit was necessary. This could have all been
negotiated had they just communicated with me. I take my integrity seriously
and I certainly didn't wish to be sued. But they had decided to sue me. I
was to be Peter Freeman's specialty - the "SCAPEGOAT".
By suing me, the Bradbury opposition would crumble.
Everyone would fear that they too would be sued. Our group would be totally
dismantled. This was a Strategic Lawsuit. Just like D'Angelo admitted (and
later lied about on his sworn affidavit), this lawsuit was meant to make
us go away.
It is my opinion that there was more to it than just the
neighborhood opposition to the relocation. It is my belief that by suing me,
they would never have to worry about anyone in the community speaking out
against them for anything concerning the Mille Lacs Academy. For instance,
when that 13-year-old went missing, stole a car, and drove to St. Cloud.
Nobody voiced outrage. No problem. It's cool.
Freeman/D'Angelo vs ... me