ATTLEBORO, Mass. – A North Smithfield man accused of threatening a former Attleboro councilwoman over her position on a gun ordinance had his case dismissed this week by a district court judge.
Joseph Wildgoose, 56, of North Smithfield allegedly had made the comments on Facebook to former councilor Roxanne Houghton, who later told police that she feared for her safety.
The incident relates back to a conversation Houghton took part in online regarding a proposed hunting ordinance, according to reports in The Sun Chronicle. The controversial ordinance, discussed on Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux’s Facebook page, would have required hunters to seek written permission before going on private property and banned all hunting on city-owned property. It was later defeated in a vote by the Attleboro City Council.
In a private message following the discussion on social media, Wildgoose reportedly called Houghton an “insane liberal,” making reference to prior domestic assault charges against her that were later dismissed.
The message also called Houghton a “rabid animal” who should “be put down,” and said she was “scum,” and a “cat lady.”
Wilgoose’s lawyer, Daniel Rich of Norton. Mass., argued there was no probable cause in the case and that his comments were protected free speech. Wildgoose reportedly did not know the victim.
On Monday, Sept. 16, Attleboro District Court Judge Edmund Mathers dismissed the case
Houghton reportedly has until to Oct. 29 to appeal the judge’s ruling.