Court boss is asked to review violent cartoon on blog

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Despite verdict, town official insists he has no grudge against clerk magistrate (By Craig S. Semon TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF)

STURBRIDGE— A violent cartoon on a local blog has caught the attention of the Dudley District Court clerk magistrate and has been forwarded to the chief justice’s office for review. The rudimentary cartoon, depicting a bruised and bloody victim and stick figures engaging in three acts of violence in a courtroom, popped up over the weekend on http://sturbridgewatch.blogspot.com, a blog run by Planning Board Chairman Thomas R. Creamer.

Mr. Creamer said the cartoon was put on his Web site on Friday and was removed a day or two later when he was updating his blog. He said he found the cartoon on the Internet at www.jom-cartoon.com.

Clerk Magistrate Kenneth F. Candito of the Dudley District Court said yesterday the cartoon was brought to his attention and he has brought it to the attention of the office of District Court Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly in Boston. On Friday, the clerk magistrate found no probable cause in a case involving a criminal complaint and counter-complaint of assault and battery between two public officers — Mr. Creamer and Community Preservation Committee member Edward T. Goodwin — during a Sturbridge selectmen’s meeting earlier in the month.

The cartoon, one of 56 on the jom-cartoon Web site, depicts a battered victim with two black eyes and blood streaming from his right eye, right nostril and mouth. Above the victim is the caption “Violence is essential in any courtroom” with the word “essential” underlined. In addition, there are three stick-figure drawings in which a faceless perpetrator is committing violence against a victim holding a gavel and presiding over court.

The perpetrator forcibly pulls the victim over the bench, rips him in half and beats him to a bloody pulp. Mr. Creamer said he doesn’t know anything about the Web site and has no connection with its owner. He said he didn’t receive any complaints over the cartoon and took it off his Web site because he updated the content on the page and was now focusing on a different topic.

In addition, Mr. Creamer said the guy who is depicted as being bruised and bloody in the cartoon is supposed to be him or the witnesses and not Clerk Magistrate Candito and not Mr. Goodwin. “That whole thing was supposed to represent me, and despite the fact that there was overwhelming evidence against the other guy, he (Mr. Goodwin) still stuck to his story that I grabbed him,” Mr. Creamer said.

Mr. Creamer said that at no time did he have any issue with the clerk magistrate and his ruling. In fact, he welcomed it. On Friday, before placing the cartoon on his blog, Mr. Creamer said the clerk magistrate’s ruling was a victory for the people of Sturbridge because they won’t have to be reminded of this “incredibly unfortunate and embarrassing situation” repeatedly on a regular basis.

Yesterday, Mr. Creamer reiterated that sentiment. “I’m please with the clerk magistrate’s ruling. His ruling was about healing. I don’t have an issue with that,” Mr. Creamer said.

“My issue is the fact, even up until the very end, Mr. Goodwin demonstrated absolutely no regret, no remorse whatsoever and still, still, despite the fact that 12 witnesses could not collaborate anything he said, continues to come up with reasons as to why nobody could see what he did.”

Mr. Creamer said the cartoon is merely a symbolic statement and not a thinly veiled threat against anyone. “The cartoon was posted to depict Ed Goodwin committing mayhem against any or all who would testify against him or challenge him,” Mr. Creamer said.

“That cartoon depicts him shredding and tearing to pieces the witness statements that were made against him.”

Mr. Creamer said if he had an issue with the clerk magistrate’s ruling, he would have posted it on his Web site. The altercation between Mr. Creamer and Mr. Goodwin took place three hours and 16 minutes into the selectmen’s meeting on Dec. 3.

Mr. Creamer said he went over and sat behind Mr. Goodwin and said to him, “Ed, anytime you want to talk about this, I’m more than happy to do that,” and then Mr. Goodwin slapped him twice, knocking off Mr. Creamer’s hat and dislodging his glasses.

But Mr. Goodwin’s lawyer, Kirstie L. Pecci, who is also his daughter, said Mr. Creamer grabbed her father’s arm and her father turned and raised his hand to protect his face. She said her father never touched Mr. Creamer, except that maybe her father’s face or hand may have brushed Mr. Creamer’s hat.

“My father is just going to move forward in a positive fashion from here,” Ms. Pecci said Friday after the clerk magistrate found no probable cause.

The argument that led up to the alleged assault is captured on the videotape of the meeting that was televised live on community access cable TV. Although the action took place off camera, one can clearly hear the heated dialogue between the two members on the recording.

It includes Mr. Goodwin calling Mr. Creamer “Bozo” twice and a “dysfunctional fireman” and Mr. Creamer saying in response, “You want to go outside and continue this discussion?”

The term “dysfunctional fireman,” which was directed toward Mr. Creamer by Mr. Goodwin, sparked off a protest organized by the Local 1009 Worcester Fire Fighters Union at the selectmen’s meeting on Dec. 17.
For 17 years, Mr. Creamer was special operations coordinator for the Worcester Fire Department, retiring four years ago.
Source : Telegram.com