David Ringer, one of the republican candidates for St. Joseph Township Trustee, filed a defamation lawsuit against the democratic trustee candidate Carol Griffin late Tuesday afternoon, just six days before voters will go to the polls.
Read the entire lawsuit in the link to the left:
Ringer told 15 Finds Out the lawsuit claims Griffin knowingly and maliciously published false information about him on her campaign website. Ringer also said letters were sent to the Ashley police chief, where Ringer is a volunteer reserve officer, and that town’s council members calling Ringer a “dangerous man.” While the letters were sent from “anonymous” they told the recipients to find more information about why Ringer is “dangerous” on Griffin’s campaign website.
The following is what the letter said, as stated in the lawsuit:
“How deep did you dig before allowing this person to be a reserve sheriff? This person is not who you think he is and is very dangerous.
Did you know that he was fired from a sheriff position with
St. Joseph County
I bet he didn’t tell you that did he?
Have you followed what is happening in Fort Wayne, IN?
If you want more info on Mr. Ringer’s character, please go to carolgriffin.org. You will find a lot of factually true information about this dangerous man.
“I didn’t write the letter. I haven’t seen it, so if he’s suing me for that letter, I didn’t write it,” Griffin said. “It’s the only thing he could think of to get back at me and I didn’t send the letters so this complaint is frivolous.”
Ringer told 15 Finds Out he never worked for the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department. 15 Finds Out called the department and they have no record of him working there.
“Whoever wrote the letter, if Carol is saying she’s not the one, why won’t that person come on TV and give an example and back that up with some evidence,” Ringer told 15 Finds Out. “I’ve been attacked personally. I understand it’s politics and things can be said, but when you send an anonymous letter to employers or places you volunteer or help out and call me a dangerous man, it’s over the top. It’s ludicrous and it’s gone above and beyond.”
Ringer said even though the letters were sent anonymously, his lawyer felt there was enough information in the letters and Griffin’s website to file suit.
“Anything I have posted on my website has been backed up by documents not written by me that produce the facts,” Griffin said. “I have talked to people who would probably consider him dangerous, but I don’t have anything in writing that would prove that. I know he’s vindictive on occasion and that’s all I can tell you.”
Griffin said as a former chaplain for St. Joseph Township, she witnessed inappropriate behavior by Ringer, and said that people are afraid to come forward.
“I was chaplain. I sat in classes. I was a volunteer. I talk with people in the classes and when things were being said I thought were inappropriate, I said, ‘David, don’t do that.’ and he laughed and went right on. Not to get too religious, but Jesus upset tables in the temple and if you have to do that to get people’s attention, I’m willing to turn them over,” Griffin said.
“It’s 100 percent false accusations that are unwarranted,” Ringer said. “It’s the personal attacks on my character. I’m well known in this community. I live in this community. I’ve worked in this community. I deal with thousands of people in emergency situations, high stress situations, and I haven’t had a single complaint in six years.”
Ringer said even if he loses the primary election, he plans to see the lawsuit through. Griffin said she doesn’t have the money to hire an attorney and doesn’t plan to anyway.
“I had nothing to do with the letter. Absolutely, positively nothing,” Griffin said.
Griffin is unopposed in the democratic primary. Ringer is running against current republican trustee Sarah Gnagy and Fort Wayne firefighter union president republican Jeremy Bush. The winner of the republican primary will face Griffin in November. The primary election is Tuesday, May 8.
This races in St. Joseph Township have been garnering a lot of attention, with four people in the ticket for trustee and 17 people running for three spots on the township advisory board. That’s more than double the number of candidates in any other township race in Allen County.
Last month Griffin filed a complaint with the Allen County Election Board over a picture Ringer posted on his campaign Facebook page. The post thanked the St. Joseph Township Fire and Rescue for their endorsement and showed a picture of the department’s fire truck. Griffin argued it broke campaign laws by using government property in a political campaign. Ringer’s attorney responded to the Board arguing the picture was on Ringer’s personal phone and taken several years ago, so it did not break the laws.
The Election Board told 15 Finds Out on Monday that the board would hold a hearing on May 18 or Ringer could remove the picture.
“Mr. Ringer removed the photographs from his Facebook page this morning. The Board now considers the matter closed,” Beth Dlug, the director of elections, told 15 Finds Out in an email on Monday.