The vice-president of the PENNCREST school board has filed a defamation complaint against another board member and is claiming $ 30,000 in damages.
Luigi DeFrancesco filed a lawsuit against Jeff Brooks on Thursday in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas. DeFrancesco is representing himself in the case.
During an appeal to the Tribune on Monday, DeFrancesco said he didn’t think he would need a lawyer for the case and said he had been unlucky with the lawyers he had engaged in the past. He also pointed out that he was filing his complaint against Brooks as a private citizen and that the complaint did not relate to Brooks’ activities within the PENNCREST school board.
Brooks, in a Facebook post to the Tribune, denounced the lawsuit.
“It’s a shame that taxpayers must continue to bear the burden of frivolous publicity lawsuits,” Brooks wrote. “There are more important things elected officials should be concerned about than knowing how to serve their own best interests.”
The lawsuit involves a series of Facebook posts posted to accounts owned by Brooks, according to the lawsuit.
The first of the posts, posted on February 28 and posted to his personal Facebook account, shows an article allegedly written by Brooks when he was 11 about a 1978 Richmond Township zoning hearing.
“Name calling and foul language, Luigi trying to impeach my grandfather,” Brooks wrote in the message accompanying the newspaper photo.
DeFrancesco claims that Brooks could not have known him in 1978 because DeFrancesco moved to the township in the fall of 1977 and his commute time to work at that time in Cleveland was two hours, preventing DeFrancesco from attend township meetings.
âIn fact, he didn’t know anything about township meetings,â DeFrancesco wrote in the lawsuit, referring to himself.
DeFrancesco further took offense at a response Brooks allegedly wrote in response to a comment under the original post in which Brooks said DeFrancesco “was a Democrat trying to impeach a Republican at the time.” DeFrancesco claimed he was a registered Republican since November 16, 1977, including a voter registration form as evidence in court documents.
According to the lawsuit, DeFrancesco sent a cease and desist letter to Brooks on or about May 15, 2021, regarding the Facebook post. Brooks appeared to acknowledge the letter in a June 15 post on a page titled “Jeff Brooks for Penncrest.”
“I was served papers at home because when I was 11 I wrote an article about a zoning meeting and they apparently didn’t like it,” the post read.
DeFrancesco accused Brooks of “turning” the letter he received.
Also in the June 15 post, it was alleged that Brooks wrote that DeFrancesco said in a discussion that “board members do not need to explain their votes to the public” and that “Mr. DeFrancesco said we needed a retirement because “Mr. Brooks is a liar ‘and I’m responsible for all the problems in this neighborhood.”
DeFrancesco has stated that these statements are false. In the case of the first comment, he said that board members âdon’t have to explain their votes to Mr. Brooks,â while in the last, DeFrancesco said he said, âMr. Brooks is the only one who has to go to a retreat because he never bothered to read the public school code and has attended many training sessions provided by the PSBA (Pennsylvania School Board Association) new board members, but he did not learn how to be an effective board member. “
The latest post in question was reportedly posted on June 17 on the Jeff Brooks page for Penncrest and relates to a school board meeting the day before. At this meeting, many members of the public showed up to comment on a Facebook post posted by PENNCREST School Board member David Valesky about an LGBTQ + book display in the library at Maplewood Junior High School. / Senior.
Specifically, DeFrancesco pointed out two comments in the post, the first of which read: âOur district was starting to turn the corner and repair the damage done from Mr. DeFrancesco’s time as chairman of the board. administration. “
In the lawsuit, DeFrancesco wrote that the president of the school board does not have the executive power to “force the administration to carry out its wishes” and that decisions for trustees come from a majority of the board, not a majority. only member. DeFrancesco maintains that Brooks blames him only for “the downfall of the neighborhood.”
The second comment on the post DeFrancesco reported read: “Mr. DeFrancesco and Mr. Valesky are exactly what we knew they were. Their homophobia and fanaticism is part of their appeal to local voters.”
DeFrancesco said Brooks “overstepped the bounds of falsity and reckless disregard for the truth” with this comment, claiming that Brooks was “without any basis in fact” in accusing DeFrancesco of being homophobic and fanatic.
Brooks said he did not yet have a planned response at the trial. According to court documents, Brooks has 20 days after receiving the notice of lawsuit to file a response. If he does not, the case will continue without his participation.
Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected]