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HomeNewsLocal newsRepublican Defamation Suit Marches On

Republican Defamation Suit Marches On

The Republican National Convention is long over, but the squabbling that started over who should represent the Virgin Islands in Cleveland continues.

A news release from the office of attorney Yohana Manning, says that Board of Elections Secretary Glenn Webster was served with a new lawsuit while attending a Sept. 20 Board of Elections meeting.

Manning’s client, Frederick Espinosa, is suing eight defendants, including Webster. The case filed on Sept. 1 alleges civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting and defamation.

The suit grows out of a fracas at an April 16 meeting at which contradictory claims were made about whether Territorial Committee Member Gwendolyn Hall Brady was assaulted by Espinosa or she assaulted newcomer to the party Dennis Lennox. According to the news release, Espinosa “intends to prove that Glenn Webster and others thereafter falsely swore out identical affidavits claiming that plaintiff assaulted Gwendolyn Hall Brady. Due to the considerable media circulation of the plaintiff’s alleged violent actions, plaintiff has faced and will continue to face a loss of reputation which is the result of years of hard work.”

The suit also alludes to a bigger question, saying the goal of a splinter group in the local Republican Party is to oust the party chairman, John Canegata. Many statements in the lawsuit insinuate that that effort failed.

However, it is unclear whether that fight is over. After an agreement was reached with national party officials as mediators during the summer, Canegata held another local caucus which appeared to include only his supporters. That gathering solidified his position. His opponents have reportedly filed an appeal with the National Republican Committee concerning the legitimacy of that caucus.

One rule at Canegata’s caucus was that any person running for a party position at that caucus must sign on oath swearing they would support Donald Trump. No one in the Virgin Islands expects to hear from the National Committee until the presidential election is over.

The lawsuit says Espinoza is a private citizen. This is important because a public figure has a greater hurdle to clear to win a defamation suit. Public figures must prove that the defendants knew what they were saying was untrue and that they were doing it with a malicious intent.

Other defendants include WAPA Board Member and President of Floor Specialists Noel Loftus, St. Croix Realtor Ava Gail Bordon, attorney Warren Bruce Cole, political operative John Yob, WTJX CEO Tanya Marie Singh, attorney Fred Vialet, Jr. and Elyssa Runyon. In May, Espinosa sued Gwendolyn Hall Brady, Herbert Schoenbohm and Holland Redfield, specifically charging defamation. 

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