75.2 F
The Villages
Monday, April 19, 2021

Sumter County commissioners to file defamation lawsuit against animal activist

Sumter County commissioners Tuesday agreed to proceed with a defamation lawsuit against an animal activist who posted a Facebook video last month attacking them.

The potential lawsuit became the latest salvo in an ongoing nine-month battle with the activists, who started coming to board meetings last summer.

County attorney Jennifer Rey said the video, posted by Karen Pauly-Gugliuzza of Leesburg, refers to commissioners as monsters, cold-hearted snakes and “dirty, rotten scoundrels.” According to her profile, Pauly-Gugliuzza is a volunteer dog walker with the Lake County animal shelter.

A clip from the video.

Rey asked commissioners to give her direction on whether to file a lawsuit.

“While we respect the public’s right to free speech, we believe there are limits,” she said. “There have to be limits of what is acceptable public speech.”

Defamation lawsuits are more difficult to win for public figures like the commissioners and they must prove actual malice.

Rey said the video has received 6,308 views and 194 shares. She said one person commented about killing commissioners.

The video was posted on the Shelter Reform for Sumter County Facebook page, but Angie Fox, one of the page’s administrators, warned commissioners not to blame it on her.

“If you go after me for something I didn’t do, you will be paying my attorney’s fees,” she said during the public forum part of the meeting.

Activists, including Fox, have continued to criticize the county even after improvements were made to the animal shelter.

The county improved its live release percentage of animals received to about 90 percent for six months, which is the level of a no-kill shelter. But commissioners refused to designate the shelter as no-kill, to the chagrin of the activists.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners said the video went beyond the limits of free speech.

“There are limits,” said Commissioner Doug Gilpin. “It’s a stain on the citizens of Sumter County.”

Commissioner Steve Printz said he also favored proceeding with the lawsuit.

“We’ve been faced with nine months of half-truths, no truths, falsehoods and innuendos,” he said. “I don’t mind debate and I don’t mind people who have a different view of the world.”

County officials took a tougher stance toward the activists earlier this year, challenging their assertions during the public forum and cutting them off.

Official reveals UF Health could be replacement for firefighters’ medical response

The Sumter County administrator has revealed that UF Health is among “multiple options” to be presented to commissioners next month as the future of medical response by The Villages Public Safety Department remains a mystery.

Villagers’ son arrested after allegedly stealing gun from father’s storage unit

The son of a couple in the Village of Fenney was arrested after allegedly stealing a gun from his father’s storage unit.

Wife hiding in bathroom dials 911 after husband splits door with his fist

A wife hiding in the bathroom of her home in The Villages dialed 911 after her husband split the door in half by pounding on it with his fist.

Official reveals UF Health could be replacement for firefighters’ medical response

The Sumter County administrator has revealed that UF Health is among “multiple options” to be presented to commissioners next month as the future of medical response by The Villages Public Safety Department remains a mystery.

Villagers’ son arrested after allegedly stealing gun from father’s storage unit

The son of a couple in the Village of Fenney was arrested after allegedly stealing a gun from his father’s storage unit.

Wife hiding in bathroom dials 911 after husband splits door with his fist

A wife hiding in the bathroom of her home in The Villages dialed 911 after her husband split the door in half by pounding on it with his fist.

CDD 7 forced to postpone meeting on its relationship with PWAC

The chairman of the Community Development District 7 Board of Supervisors has decided to reschedule a meeting which had been set for April 30 to discuss the future of CDD 7’s relationship with the Project Wide Advisory Committee.

Villager’s son with history of arrests nabbed with drugs in traffic stop

A Villager’s son with a history of arrests was nabbed with drugs in a traffic stop after leaving the Tikki Hut on County Road 466 in Oxford.

Police arrest woman with drugs at barbecue restaurant in The Villages

A woman with drugs was arrested at a barbecue restaurant in The Villages.

Get the facts right on server shortages at restaurants

A reader with some insight on the restaurant industry, says Villages-News.com should “get the facts right” on server shortages at local restaurants. Read her Letter to the Editor.

Great article on the labor shortage at restaurants in The Villages

An Ocala reader, in a Letter to the Editor, points out that the restaurants in the area aren’t the only businesses dealing with staffing shortages.

Greta Thunberg will testify in Congress on Earth Day

In a Letter to the Editor, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Chapter-The Villages expresses excitement about Greta Thunberg’s upcoming testimony before Congress.