Friday June 29, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Dan Valenti has complied with a Central Berkshire District Court judge's order to remove any references to Meredith Nilan from his blog, Planet Valenti.

"No one believes more in free speech, the necessity of a free press to the fair functioning of democracy, and in our First Amendment rights than we do," Valenti wrote on his blog on Thursday.

"However, we are complying with the court order to establish our belief that we must first, before anything, be a ‘nation of laws.'"

Valenti did not immediately respond to a request from The Eagle for further comment.

On Wednesday, Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega issued Nilan, 24, a harassment prevention order against Valenti, which included a provision that he remove "any and all references" to Nilan from "any and all websites, blogs, etc. ..."

The order also requires Valenti to stay 100 yards away from Nilan, stay away from her workplace and her home, and refrain from any contact or abuse.

Nilan told The Eagle that Valenti's blog contained lies, innuendo and disortions about her and her family, and that she's been the victim of threats.

"Mr. Valenti's continued vitriol and his repeated inclination to print lies and sensationalize every aspect of my case has made me fear for my personal safety," Nilan wrote in a statement to The Eagle. A Las Vegas man is facing charges for threatening her life.

Nilan, the daughter of Clifford Nilan, the head of the county Superior Court probation department, was the driver in a December car-pedestrian accident that left a city man with serious injuries. She had been the subject of numerous posts on Valenti's blog concerning the accident.

On his blog, Valenti wrote that he went beyond what the judge ordered and removed any reference to the accident and the people involved "to demonstrate our good faith in dealing with the order. He also said he wouldn't allow any people to post comments about the case either.

The order remains in effect until July 9 when a hearing will take place in District Court to determine if it should be extended. Valenti is entitled to attend that hearing.

Nilan was charged with misdemeanor negligent operation of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident for a Dec. 8 accident in which the car she was driving struck 46-year-old Peter More of Pittsfield. Moore suffered a broken neck and other injuries.

On June 6, the misdemeanor charge against Nilan was continued without a finding for six months in District Court. The charge of leaving the scene was dismissed. Nilan said what happened on Dec. 8 was an accident.