NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 12, 2012

Salisbury on notice; L'Esperance takes first step in possible lawsuit

SALISBURY — Former police Chief David L’Esperance has put the town on notice that he may file a federal civil suit charging the community with damaging his reputation because of its handling of allegations made against him two years ago.

Selectmen Jerry Klima and Donald Beaulieu confirmed this week they have received a “presentment letter,” but refused to comment further, referring questions to Town Manager Neil Harrington.

Harrington said because the letter relates to possible pending litigation brought by another party, he felt he could not release it to the public or comment on its specifics at this time.

However, the town manager said he will notify L’Esperance’s attorney, Richard Kendall, that the town has received a public records request for the letter from The Daily News and advise him the document will be released unless he objects on the grounds of a valid exemption allowed under the Freedom of Information Act.

Harrington intends to meet privately with the Board of Selectmen and town attorney to discuss the ramifications of the letter and appropriate strategy.

According to state law Chapter 258.4, those intending to file lawsuits against a municipality must first send a presentment letter outlining their claims and the legal actions they intend to take. The municipality then has six months to respond in manners that include settlement, negotiations, compromise or denial.

If the town denies the claims brought in a presentment letter, it opens the way for the filing of a lawsuit to be dealt with through the court system, the law says.

L’Esperance served as Salisbury’s police chief from April 2006 until early December 2010, most of the time with the full backing of Harrington and the Board of Selectmen. On Dec. 6, 2010, he was relieved of duty by Harrington after allegations surfaced that he had engaged in criminal behavior, including trading sex for drugs.

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