Online posts spur warning
NASHUA – A Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered a Hudson woman to “immediately delete” two sets of Facebook posts attacking a local child care center, warning that if she doesn’t comply she’ll go to jail on contempt of court charges.
Judge Charles Temple issued the order following Wednesday’s show-cause hearing in a civil action brought by Hudson child care provider Carol Boudreau, principal of Gingerbread House of Hudson LLC, against Bethellen Cecere, also known as Bethellen Vachon, a Hudson resident who, according to the suit, has a long history of disparaging Boudreau and the facility in social media posts.
Temple, in his order, essentially gave Cecere a second chance to comply with the original order, which was issued in June 2017 and told Cecere she must stop making “defamatory statements” about the facility, Boudreau and her employees, “including, but not limited to, social media posts.
Temple also ordered Cecere “to immediately remove any social media posts” that make any references to the facility, according to the order.
The new order, meanwhile, also compels Cecere to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and court costs for Wednesday’s hearing, “based on (Cecere’s) failure to comply with the June 7, 2017 order,” Temple wrote.
Should she not comply with the new order, the judge wrote, Cecere would not only face jail time, but be liable for any further fees and costs the plaintiffs incur.
The suit was filed in early 2017 under Gingerbread House of Hudson LLC, the child care center’s parent company, and names as plaintiffs Boudreau, who is its chief operating officer, and two employees.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in early June. Jury selection is set for June 4, with testimony to take place on June 11 for what the parties believe will be a one-day trial.
According to court documents, the suit “arose out of the conduct of (Cecere), who has (allegedly) engaged in a malicious public smear campaign” against the facility, Boudreau and her employees “collectively and individually, primarily via social media, including Facebook and Instagram.”
Cecere’s alleged behavior was motivated, according to the suit, by the fact that Boudreau and her employees supported Cecere’s former spouse “in his successful attempt to gain primary (custody) of her children.”
The two children had previously attended the Gingerbread House, the suit states.
Cecere “believes … that her unhappiness allows her to claim that (Boudreau and her staff) have engaged in reprehensible, illegal and abusive behavior towards children who attend, or have attended, Gingerbread House … ,” according to the suit.
Cecere allegedly opined in some of her social media posts that none of the Gingerbread House employees should be working with children, and she insists in others that the employees “have physically abused the young children entrusted to their care.”
Other claims Cecere allegedly made on social media accuse the employees of “engaging in racial bullying of the children,” and of “misrepresenting their qualifications” as child care professionals, the suit states.
The employees “are uneducated … and lack professionalism,” Cecere alleges.
Perhaps most troubling is Cecere’s allegation that “there is a lot of abuse and neglect that happens behind closed doors.”
The suit states that the plaintiffs “have suffered irreparable harm” and “damage to their reputation and their business.”
The actions the plaintiffs are seeking include a “temporary, preliminary and permanent” injunction halting Cecere from posting allegations regarding the center and the staff, which Temple later granted.
Other counts through which they seek relief include libel, tortious interference with contractual relations, false light/invasion of privacy and intentional influction of emotional distress.
The “tortious interference” count means the plaintiffs accuse Cecere of intentionally damaging their contractual or business relationships with others, while the “false light” count alleges Cecere’s social media posts violated the plaintiffs’ right to protection from unwanted publicity.
In her response to the allegations, Cecere denies the vast majority of the claims. Among those she admits is the claim that she posted messages online “which concerned the plaintiffs,” but noted they were “viewable to a small collective of individuals who were, and are, connected to (Cecere’s) social media pages.”
Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Telegraph_DeanS.