GILFORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man who objected to a book his daughter was assigned to read is suing the police officer who arrested him at a school board meeting.
William Baer of Gilford complained at a school board meeting in May that parents should have been notified about the book, “Nineteen Minutes” by New Hampshire author Jodi Picoult because it includes sexually explicit content.
At the meeting, Baer was given two minutes to speak, the same amount of time as others. He protested the limit and challenged the board to arrest him. A police officer led him away.
A judge later dismissed the disorderly conduct charges, but Baer is now suing Lt. James Leach arguing that he was falsely arrested for exercising his right to free speech.
“Mr. Baer was arrested for comments that lasted a total of 35 seconds. His comments were reactive to the verbal attack on him, but not vulgar or disruptive of the meeting’s orderly continuation,” his attorney, Charles Douglas, wrote in the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit claims Leach violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. He is seeking unspecified compensation for embarrassment, emotional distress and mental anguish. According to the lawsuit, he was humiliated by being removed from the meeting in front of onlookers, and video of the incident was widely broadcast. Baer says the incident also delayed the approval of his license to carry a concealed weapon in Maine.
Leach did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
“Nineteen Minutes,” had been part of the Gilford High School curriculum since 2007. The school board apologized for the school district’s failure to send home prior notice of the assignment.
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