A Southampton village and town justice has gone from the bench to the defendant's seat in a multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit filed by her neighbor.
Barbara L. Wilson faces a July 15 date to answer the $2.2 million suit filed by Anthony Gugliotta, a luxury home builder whom Wilson publicly accused of installing a security camera aimed at her teenage daughter's bedroom window.
The lawsuit was filed May 27 in state Supreme Court in Suffolk County. It alleges that Wilson defamed Gugliotta during a televised April 13 public hearing of the Southampton Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review.
"Her statements were calculated to give the false impression that Mr. Gugliotta is a pedophile," Gugliotta's attorney, Melville-based Anton J. Borovina, said in a telephone interview. Gugliotta, owner of Sayville-based TS Construction, constructs homes in the Hamptons.
Both Gugliotta and Wilson were prohibited by their attorneys from being interviewed. Wilson's Amagansett-based attorney, Brian Lester, declined to address details of the case.
"At this point we're going to answer it in the proper fashion in the courts," Lester said.
Wilson attended the April hearing to discuss her application to build an exterior staircase on her Elm Street home, and Gugliotta was among three residents who objected.
According to the lawsuit, in a statement "not relevant or material to the proceedings," Wilson spoke of the plaintiff when she said: "It is just when people bring up my daughter, it gets a little upsetting to me. Especially when grown men want to look at little girls."
The lawsuit adds that after the hearing, Wilson looked directly at Gugliotta and warned him to stay away from her daughter.
Borovina said Wilson exercised bad judgment and made her accusations to intimidate Gugliotta and others who oppose her staircase plan.
The camera was installed in 2013 when Wilson and Gugliotta were embroiled in a property line battle involving their shared driveway and he wanted to gather evidence, Borovina said. Wilson chained her pickup truck to a column in front of her home after Gugliotta threatened to tow it away because part of her driveway was on his property.
As part of a settlement reached that year, Gugliotta gave Wilson easement rights that allowed her to park on part of his property, and at Wilson's request he agreed that the camera would not be pointed at any of Wilson's living areas. After the settlement, Borovina said his client turned off the camera, though it remains attached to his house.