Falmouth government critic claims assault by School Board member

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FALMOUTH — An altercation over public seating during a School Board meeting last week resulted in a citizen accusing the board’s vice chairman of assault.

Michael Doyle, a frequent, outspoken critic of town government, filed the complaint against Vice Chairman Andrew Kinley after the Aug. 12 School Board retreat, an annual meeting where board members discuss the upcoming school year and set annual goals.

According to police, the alleged assault is under investigation and Kinley has not been charged with a crime.

Kinley and School Board Chairman Analiese Larson said there is no merit to Doyle’s accusation.

“We had an area set aside for the public to sit. He was told this was the area he was to sit in,” Kinley said Tuesday. “He was standing up, trying to stand over our table and video tape (the proceedings).”

Kinley said he asked Doyle to return to the public area and had a verbal disagreement with him, after which Doyle returned to his seat. When he got up again and stood near the board’s table, Kinley said he stood up, touched Doyle’s arm and asked him to sit down again.

“It was as if a flight attendant was redirecting you,” Kinley said. “No pressure was applied. He asked me not to do that and I stopped.”

On Wednesday, Doyle said “everything (Kinley and Larson) said was a lie. It’s a complete out and out lie.”

He said he would not provide details until the police investigation is complete.

Doyle said he provided a video recording of the alleged assault to police and that he would post it online after the investigation is over.

“Assault is defined as unwanted offensive touching,” Doyle said. “He touched me and I didn’t want him to.”

Doyle confirmed that Kinley stopped when Doyle asked him to, but he would not elaborate. He said only that he had been trying to get close enough to the board so he could hear what they were saying.

Doyle frequently attends Town Council and School Board meetings, speaking regularly during the public comment portion of meetings and sometimes shouting “points of order” and comments from the floor.

He often criticizes the way town and school officials handle finances and carry out the town’s business.

The town has had a police officer attend council meetings after Doyle sent town councilors letters last year that they interpreted as threatening.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

This story was updated on Aug. 25, 2011.