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Richardson v. Easterling

July 14, 2005

MICHAEL S. A. RICHARDSON, M.D., APPELLANT,
v.
AARON EASTERLING, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (VSP3770-03) (Hon. Jeanette J. Clark, Trial Judge).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schwelb, Associate Judge.

Argued June 9, 2005

Before SCHWELB and FARRELL, Associate Judges, and BURGESS, Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia.*fn1

Michael S. A. Richardson, M.D., appeals from an order of the trial court, issued on February 6, 2004, dismissing Richardson's First Amended Petition for a Civil Protection Order (CPO).*fn2 In his First Amended Petition, Richardson asked the court to bar Aaron Easterling, Richardson's former homosexual lover, from continuing to engage in conduct which, according to Richardson, constituted "stalking" within the meaning of D.C. Code § 22-404 (b) (2001), and an "intrafamily offense" within the meaning of D.C. Code § 16-1001 (2001). The trial judge ruled that no intrafamily offense had been alleged, reasoning that "the Petition sounded in defamation and neither abuse nor violence had been alleged." We conclude that although the Intrafamily Offenses Act does not apply to the alleged defamatory statements by Easterling of which Richardson complains, it does reach Richardson's allegations that Easterling made numerous threatening, abusive and harassing telephone calls directly to Richardson, thereby committing the criminal offense of stalking. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment and reinstate, in part, Richardson's First Amended Petition.

I.

On or about November 19, 2003, Richardson filed his initial "Petition and Affidavit for a Civil Protection Order" against Easterling. The Petition and Affidavit were written on standard forms provided by the Superior Court. Richardson alleged that he and Easterling "Now or Previously Having Shared the Same Residence" and had a "Romantic/Dating Relationship." Richardson further alleged that he resided in the District of Columbia, and he answered in the affirmative the question "Did any incident described below occur in the District of Columbia?" Substantively, Richardson alleged that Easterling had:

1. [t]hreatened to contact police and falsely accuse [P]petitioner of knowingly spreading communicable diseases;

2. [c]ontacted District of Columbia Board of Medicine, [and] made false statements regarding Petitioner's sex life and the intentional spread of sexually transmitted diseases by Petitioner;

3. [m]ade calls to [P]petitioner's colleagues and divulged personal information regarding [P]petitioner and made false accusations regarding [P]petitioner's sex life and [P]petitioner's knowing transmission of sexually transmitted diseases;

4. [c]ontacted Petitioner's secretary, by telephone, and made remarks regarding Petitioner's sexuality and the intentional spread of sexually transmitted diseases by Petitioner;

5. [c]ontacted a female colleague of [P]petitioner and advised colleague that [P]petitioner was a homosexual and was knowingly spreading sexually transmitted diseases;

6. [a]ppropriated, from Petitioner's home, forged and attempted to pass a check on a closed financial account in Petitioner's name, resulting in a criminal investigation of Petitioner by Maryland authorities.*fn3

On November 24, 2003, the trial court issued an ex parte Temporary Protection Order (TPO) prohibiting Easterling, for a period ...


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