D.C. Superior Court declared the case of Peaceoholics v. Sandra Seegars closed after Seegars, a Ward 8 ANC commissioner who has been called abrupt, brash and fearless, agreed to retract unfavorable e-mails she had sent about the nonprofit organization.
In April 2010, the Peaceoholics filed a libel suit against Seegars, claiming she “began maliciously distributing false, defamatory and disparaging messages” about the Peaceoholics by e-mail. The suit followed a controversial community meeting about a proposal by the Peaceoholics to open a housing program for at-risk youth in Seegars’s district. The Peaceoholics proposed housing young people in an apartment building on Congress Street SE where they would receive counseling and a chance to buy an apartment after they found jobs.
But Seegars vehemently opposed the program, saying it was not good for Congress Street because of “clustering.” The law, she said, forbids “more than one facility within 500 feet of one that is already there. There are four of them there now.”
Ronald Moten, a co-founder of the Peaceoholics, said he filed the lawsuit after Seegars “sent out an e-mail saying somebody was assaulted by somebody who works for us. It wasn’t true, and she is careless.”
After a year, Moten said they settled the case after Seegars agreed to write a clarification. In a handwritten note filed with the court and stamped with the date April 6, 2011, Seegars wrote, in part: “On 4/22/10, I forwarded an email from one of my constituents stating that someone was pushed by a member of the Peaceoholics. I have since learned that the alleged ‘pusher’ was not a member of the Peaceoholics. I appreciate the efforts made by the Peaceoholics in resolving this issue. In addition, I appreciate the good works done by the Peaceoholics organization.”
Seegars, who is running for a Ward 8 Council seat, said later in an interview: “It was a frivolous case, anyway, and the purpose was to stop me from stopping them from opening the program on 13th. We stopped them.”
Moten said the program was unable to get necessary city licenses and permits to open. “That whole thing was blocked by Sandra Seegars,” Moten said. “Because we couldn’t get any permits, we couldn’t pay our mortgage.” Moten said the title to the property on Congress Street was transferred.
Moten said he was disappointed that more people did not see Seegars’s clarification. “Based on what she said, we are a great organization,” said Moten, who is running for the Ward 7 Council seat. “When you are a nonprofit, your reputation means a lot. ... We have been vindicated through court and with the letter she wrote, but how many people did that reach? We have to forgive, but damage was done.”
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