Southampton Village and Town Justice Barbara Wilson is seeking to dismiss a $2.2 million defamation lawsuit filed against her by a neighbor with whom she has long feuded.
The lawsuit, filed in May in Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead, alleges that Wilson defamed Anthony Gugliotta during a televised April 13 public hearing before the Southampton Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review. Wilson publicly accused Gugliotta of installing a security camera aimed at her teenage daughter's bedroom window.
In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Wilson's Amagansett-based attorney, Brian Lester, said any statements Wilson made were privileged since they were part of a quasi-judicial proceeding. Anton J. Borovina, Gugliotta's Melville-based attorney, said in a telephone interview Monday that Wilson's statements were meant to give the impression that his client is a pedophile. Gugliotta, owner of Sayville-based TS Construction, builds luxury homes in the Hamptons.
Gugliotta and Wilson were prohibited by their attorneys from being interviewed. Lester previously said he did not want to comment and would instead let the court handle the matter. He was unavailable for comment Monday. The motion to dismiss was filed in July.
"I'm not surprised," Borovina said Monday of the filing. "But I don't agree. Statements made in a judicial proceeding are privileged -- as defamatory as they may be. But that does not apply to statements that are irrelevant to the issues being discussed or a statement that was made after the adjournment (of the meeting), which is the case."
The statements allegedly made came about when Wilson attended the hearing to discuss her application to build an exterior staircase on her Elm Street home, and Gugliotta was among residents who objected.
According to the lawsuit, "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.' " It adds that after the hearing, Wilson warned Gugliotta to stay away from her daughter.
Borovina said the security camera was installed in 2013 when Wilson and Gugliotta were quarreling over their shared driveway and Gugliotta wanted to gather evidence.
Gugliotta gave Wilson easement rights letting her park on part of his property, and agreed not to point the camera at Wilson's living areas. After settlement, Borovina said, his client turned off the camera, though it is still attached to his house.