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Judge Denies Toft's Anti-Harrassment Claim

King County District Court Judge Peter Nault denied 5th District Senate candidate Brad Toft's suit against Kelly Spratt on the condition that she not contact him directly outside of public meetings.

Editor's Note: Brad Toft's campaign released an amended statement following publication of this article. The updated version can be found here.

Sammamish resident Kelly Spratt was asked to agree not to contact 5th District Senate candidate Brad Toft or his wife Jill by email, phone, or in person at his home, but King County District Court Judge Peter Nault on Friday denied Toft's request for an anti-harrassment order.

Both Toft and Spratt, speaking through her attorney, Janet Irons, praised the ruling Friday afternoon, Sept. 28.

"He asked her to explicitly state thate she would not personally contact me by any means, show up at my house, email, or telephone me or my wife," Toft said.

"I think it’s a win for first amendment freedom of speech," Irons said. "The judge said when someone steps in to the limelight," they have to expect people to disagree with them.

Toft reported the judge's comments similarly.

"He also said that 'since you’re a public figure you don’t want to abridge her first amendment rights,'" which Toft says was never his goal. "It was just the vulgar personal emails."

"He was concerned that if he entered a full harassment judgement that she would be stigmatized for life, and she would be and that was not our goal, so he said that he would deny the full order but if she violates her oath 'we would be right back here quickly,'" Toft said.

One of the main points of discussion during the 45-minute proceeding was whether direct messages sent to Toft by Spratt via Twitter can righlty be considered personal communication.

Irons contends that since Toft's Twitter account is linked to his campaign web site, that it is not a private account.

"There was no allegation even that she emailed or called him or visited his house, though she did email him a number of months ago," Irons said.

Spratt was at a certain point posting up to 15 twitter messages a day about Toft, he says, and direct messaging him as well, causing him some concern. Irons contends that Spratt was forwarding messages to Toft's campaign that she had also sent to media outlets. Spratt since has made her Twitter profile private, so only approved followers of her on the social media site can view her "tweets."

Whatever the result, Toft said, he believes Spratt got the message. "She was very humble in court, there was a definite change in demeanor. She has been very emboldened I think because we were being cautious and not firing back," 

"My client is very opposed to his candidacy but she is interested in the electoral process. At meetings, she spoke during the question and answer period and people spoke after her, she was not disruptive," Irons said, saying other attendees of those meetings had been prepared to testify to that effect. She added that attending meetings where most of the attendees are loyal supporters and speaking against a candidate is not easy.

"This is what the American system is about. If you feel strongly go out and participate. An anti-harrassment claim against someone participating in the process has a chilling effect," Irons said. A counter-suit filed by Spratt, which sought to recover attorney fees she's incurred defending herself against the action also was dismissed.

Toft sent the following statement out to his supporters shortly after the ruling:

Dear Friends:

Today the King County District Court rebuked Ms. Kelly Spratt from the bench and demanded that she stop contacting me and my family. With a stern reprimand, The Hon. Peter Nault secured a personal agreement from Ms. Spratt that she would cease her personal contact.  

I feel vindicated in my attempts to protect my family from additional harassment from Ms. Spratt.

Aside from Ms. Spratt's vigorous complaints to the contrary, her First Amendment rights are protected. I believe, however, her smears are politically motivated. Now, it has the backing of a court agreement.  
Sincerely,

Brad Toft.

 

 

Randall September 28, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Maybe Brad should have claimed that she is mad at the "other" Brad Toft. http://www.king5.com/news/politics/Wash-Senate-hopeful-Brad-Toft-sought-to-seal-court-files-162909556.html
G.Teller September 29, 2012 at 01:08 AM
If "rebuked" means that Brad left the courtroom with his tail between his legs, then yes, that is correct. Hey Brad, shall we forward this lie of a statement to Judge Nault, who issued verdict against you today?
Danny Chapman September 29, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Having actually seen Ms. Spratt in action at one of Brad's political meetings, I don't blame him a bit for what he did. I don't know if the two somewhat rude comments above saw what I did; an abusive person who was screaming, crying and disrupting an otherwise informative and peaceful political meeting. I don't care what your political leanings are, this type of behavior is scary - especially given what has happened in the last few years in Arizona and Colorado. Brad had every right to try and protect his family. And quite frankly, he has been extremely kind and professional in dealing with this situation. He has not released video of these disruptions nor the emails, Facebook posts or Twitter comments that this person has made against him. If he had, it would have been quite obvious why he was seeking a court order to protect himself, his wife and children. Shame on you people for not understanding this goes beyond politics.
Ian Tullite September 29, 2012 at 08:19 AM
Nasty hag that needs to find a civil tongue and actions that are befitting an adult rather than a petulant teenager.
Jeanne Gustafson September 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Ian, we appreciate all viewpoints here, but please don't post personal attacks.
G.Teller September 29, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Danny Chapman: Following and supporting someone like Toft, well, it just isn't smart. Had this been a valid complaint, don't you think a judge would have agreed? No such personal attacks occurred and Brad knows it. You know it. Be truthful. Oh, and isn't Brad running in an election? Perhaps you should both be focusing on that, instead of making up lies about a woman.
Randall September 29, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Brad has a history of trying to silence his critics, that's all I was trying to point out. And the one meeting where I heard Ms. Spratt speak she was definitely emotional, but in no way abusive or disruptive. I thought it was interesting to gauge his reaction to her - he definitely didn't seem scared.
Danny Chapman September 29, 2012 at 05:21 PM
G. Teller: First of all, I proudly support Brad because he is the best candidate of two. He believes in limited government, education and fiscal discipline. One of Mullet's main contributions is taking away my right to use a plastic bag at the grocery store. Secondly, the judge (and I might add, Ms. Spratt herself) all agreed to no longer have any contact with Brad or his family. And why would they even be agreeing to this and even be in court if there had not been a problem? As I mentioned before, I have personally witnessed this person at one of Brad's meetings. It was disruptive and quite frankly, rather scary. I have also read some of her Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. This bordered on stalking in my opinion. And I might add that her case was completed dismissed. The only person walking out of that courtroom with an agreement in hand was, in fact, Brad. And lastly, yes Brad knows he is running an election. He has done an exemplary job in remaining professional and calm throughout this ordeal. And I am quite sure that he would like nothing better than to move on now and talk about about the challenges facing Washington State.
Randall September 30, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Danny Chapman: I agree with you that Brad would love to move on and not deal with his past transgressions, behavior and lawsuits. But unfortunately for him, his past (and the way he is currently trying to hide it) paints a very vivid and unsettling picture of the type of legislator he would likely be. And why are you so mad about the plastic bag ban?
G.Teller October 03, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Spratt's attorney, Janet Irons, comments: It is unfortunate Mr. Toft is mischaracterizing the court proceedings in an effort to continue his attack on Ms. Spratt. The Judge quite clearly expressed, repeatedly, that Ms. Spratt was exercising her First Amendment rights by challenging Mr. Toft's fitness for office, & that the Court would not restrict her right to do so. Indeed, contrary to Mr. Toft's rendition, the only time the Court spoke to Ms. Spratt was to confirm her long held intentions to contact Mr. Toft only in public forms, expressed in a letter written several weeks earlier. Ms. Spratt responded with a very clear & confident "certainly", not humbly as stated in Mr. Toft's creative rendition of the event. In contrast the Judge addressed Mr. Toft repeatedly & indicated people who voluntarily thrust themselves into public light will be criticized & Mr. Toft needs to, in the word of the Judge, "grow thicker skin." At no time was Mr. Toft given the opportunity to speak, as the Judge didn't deem it necessary to even take testimony given the nature of the petition & of Ms. Spratt's action. The Judge did not indicate that he was considering entering an order against Ms. Spratt - let alone restraining himself from doing so due to possible stigmatization of Ms. Spratt. The Judge specifically said he was denying the petition outright, not entering even a conditional order, as it was unnecessary under the circumstances. Mr. Toft's statement to the contrary is blatantly false.
G.Teller October 03, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Danny Chapman: "...saw what I did; an abusive person who was screaming, crying and disrupting an otherwise informative and peaceful political meeting." While I'm no attorney, this crafty comment is false and quite possibly illegal. Glad I'm not you right now. This harassment claim was unfounded, period. It's a facade, and an elaborate effort to publicly shame a woman for standing up and speaking out against Toft, who has a significant criminal record, past and present. I wouldn't want to be her right now, either. It's a sad day when a candidate resorts to extreme measures like this to shut someone up, and when others lie about her actions. (Hint: I was there too.)
G.Teller October 12, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Toft is so believable! He has two degrees, after all, from SPU and UW. Politician claims to have "executive degree in finance" from top university after attending 3-day seminar: http://bit.ly/TmxstM Much more efficient than going to college for four years.

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