Hinsdale meeting ends in alleged chest bumps
HINSDALE -- Two separate altercations were alleged at a town of Hinsdale Board of Selectman meeting Wednesday night.
A town resident is accusing a selectman of chest-bumping him, and another town resident is accused of bumping a police officer after the meeting.
Both of the accused deny the accusations.
In the first incident, police intervened in a confrontation between Selectman William Goddard and resident James Sullivan following an abrupt end to Wednesday night's meeting, according to Police Chief Nancy Daniels.
Daniels and town resident Deborah Pratt were among those who said they witnessed Sullivan stand up and ask the board questions after Select Board Chairwoman Bonnie Conner adjourned the meeting while declining to take public comments.
Attendees differ on the timing of the adjournment. Goddard said he wasn't sure if Conner adjourned the meeting before or after Sullivan began asking questions about a new policy regarding the conduct of meetings. Conner put a stop to public comment at board meetings last month and wouldn't take any Wednesday.
At some point after his comments, Daniels and Pratt agreed that Goddard left his seat and confronted Sullivan.
Daniels said that Goddard "bumped his chest" against Sullivan.
"I had to get in the middle of it and broke it up," Daniels said. "We cleared the room out."
Goddard said he never touched Sullivan.
Goddard alleged that Sullivan questioned his manhood and called him a puppet of Conner. He accused Sullivan of saying "how does it feel to be emasculated by a woman in front of everybody," Goddard said.
State police responded after Daniels called for backup, but no arrests were made at the meeting. A spokesman for the state police said troopers did not witness the incident.
State police took down a report in which Goddard alleged he was heckled by Sullivan and Sullivan accused Goddard of shoving him.
Daniels said that Hinsdale Police Officer Kerri Striebel escorted Goddard out of Town Hall. When she returned, Daniels said she saw town resident Laura Galliher "bump" Striebel into a wall. Striebel declined to comment.
Galliher, reached by phone, said she had "no idea" what the allegations were about. She said she hasn't been notified of any possible charges.
Daniels said she expected charges to be filed against Galliher on Friday in Central Berkshire District Court. There was no record of such a filing as of late Friday afternoon.
Sullivan said he filed a complaint in Berkshire District Court on Thursday against Goddard. Sullivan declined to elaborate.
Goddard said he "didn't take kindly" to Sullivan's insults Wednesday. After walking up to Sullivan, Goddard said he told Sullivan "say that to my face."
He said that Sullivan yelled out that he was assaulted, though Goddard maintains he didn't make contact with him. "I have tons of witnesses," Goddard said. Goddard said he offered Sullivan an apology. "He hasn't accepted my apology."
Daniels and Pratt said that Sullivan's questioning was related to a letter put out by Conner, the board chairwoman, about changing the rules at selectmen's meetings.
Daniels and Pratt said that Selectman Bruce Marshall questioned why his name was on the letter despite never having seen it. Marshall could not be reached Friday for comment. Goddard said he wasn't involved in the letter either.
Conner declined Friday to answer questions about the meeting.
"If there was an explanation, I would give it to you," Conner said. "I can't make any comment on it."
Conner said she would speak to the matter at another time.
"These people are wound up and I don't need to wind them up anymore," she said.
Feelings have been strained in the town over the past month since Conner delayed a waiver for Daniels to continue on as chief. Daniels needs a waiver while she awaits a test to become the permanent chief. Daniels fractured her ankle over the summer which she said delayed her ability to take the exam. Daniels took over as police chief in January and is a 13-year veteran of the force.
Daniels said she was asked by Conner not to report to work. Daniels said she had to hire an attorney to keep her job by getting the board to grant the waiver.
The crowd on Wednesday included people who attended in support of Daniels. Last month, her home and police cruiser were vandalized, according to Daniels. The front window of her home was shattered and eggs were thrown at both the home and car, she said. Somebody sprayed shaving cream on the vehicle with a threatening message, according to her.
"It's definitely not kids," Daniels said.
"We're trying to support the police chief," Pratt said.
"The main problem here is people have a right to speak," Daniels said. "They have questions and questions aren't being answered."
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