In a bizarre turn of events, Gregory Luce found himself the target of harassing e-mails and phone calls as a result of retaliation by Chief of Police, Timothy Kelemen of the Town of Campbell, Wisconsin. Luce was targeted for retaliation after he spoke out against a city ordinance which prohibits citizens from displaying the American flag and wearing t-shirts that call for the impeachment of President Barack Obama on a pedestrian highway overpass managed by the town.
Luce is a devout Catholic and member of the Tea Party. He opposes President Obama on several issues, including the President’s stance on abortion.
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, represents Mr. Luce in a federal lawsuit challenging the Town of Campbell ordinance which it filed in January 2014. The lawsuit named the Town as well as the Chief and a police officer as defendants. However, on Friday, June 6, 2014, TMLC attorneys filed an amended complaint after an investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff’s investigators revealed that Chief Kelemen used his police department and home computers to sign Luce up for a series of unwanted solicitations including solicitations from homosexual oriented pornography and dating websites. Luce is a married, heterosexual man.
TMLC attorney Erin Mersino who is the principal attorney on the case commented, “All citizens should be free to exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of retaliation—especially retaliation at the hands of individuals, such as the head of law enforcement, who hold so much power in our communities.”
After initially denying any involvement in the harassment of Luce, the Chief ultimately admitted the harassment as an attempt to “get back at” Luce after detective told him they had traced the unwanted solicitations to his IP addresses at the police department and his home. Detectives have referred their investigation to the Monroe County District Attorney for criminal prosecution under Wisconsin law. On the civil front, TMLC amended its complaint to add counts of First Amendment Retaliation under the Petition Clause, Invasion of Privacy for the appropriation of Luce’s personal information, and civil Identity Theft.
Chief Kelemen used Gregory Luce’s personal information, including home address, telephone number and e-mail address, to create profiles and accounts on numerous pornographic and dating websites featuring homosexual men, insurance companies, and the “Obamacare” website healthcare.gov. The accounts created by Kelemen resulted in Luce receiving approximately 15 phone calls in a single day regarding the profiles made using his information.
Additionally, Chief Kelemen, under the username “Bill O’Reilly,” posted a number of inflammatory and harassing comments on the website of local newspaper, the La Crosse Tribune, including 7 comments on the article regarding the filing of the initial lawsuit. Within the comments, Chief Kelemen posted that Luce had “disrespected the wrong mo fo,” as well as posting false comments about Mr. Luce wetting himself and posting Luce’s home address.
The police investigation started after Mr. Luce reported his concerns about the theft and unauthorized use of his personal information to the La Crosse police department. La Crosse police referred the matter to the Monroe Sheriff’s Department after Chief Kelemen’s involvement became apparent because of the close working relationship between the La Crosse and the Campbell departments.
Chief Kelemen admitted to using Mr. Luce’s personal information to sign him up for the various websites without his permission to retaliate for statements made by Luce concerning the Town of Campbell city ordinance which prohibits the display of signs or flags on, or within 100 feet, of the only pedestrian overpass managed by the town. City ordinance 9.12 was passed in October 2013 in response to participants’ of “Overpasses for America,” a national movement whose immediate goal is the impeachment of President Obama, use of the pedestrian overpass.