MNGOP Rep. Mary Franson sued for defamation by ex-boyfriend Eric Harpel
|Court records indicate Harpel (right) filed his lawsuit against Franson on Tuesday.|
McLeod County MNGOP Chair Eric Harpel got in touch today to let us know he's sued his ex-girlfriend, Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, for defamation, illegally accessing his electronic communications, and breach of contract.
Harpel tells us Franson was served on December 7 of last year, "So it's not like she didn't know this was coming."
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The Franson-Harpel drama dates back to May 2012, when Franson filed a steamy restraining order against him following their breakup that January. (In one particularly colorful passage from the filing, Franson writes this about what allegedly happened when she asked Harpel about some stuff she left at his place: "I asked him when I could get my belongings and he said he wanted my panties in exchange.")
Harpel has steadfastly maintained the restraining order was without merit, and Franson dismissed it that July. But shortly before that happened, Harpel said his email was hacked, with all his correspondence with Franson, former McLeod County Republican Party official Marie Thurn, and his attorney ending up deleted. But everything was backed up on an external hard drive.
In a subsequent email exchange with us, Harpel linked Franson's decision to drop her restraining order with the hacking, which he believes Franson was responsible for.
"When only that information was deleted and it gets reported and then [Franson] drops [the restraining order] it says a lot!" Harpel wrote. "That information was to be used in court on my behalf to dispute her entire affidavit. She knew I had it too... she had no choice but to drop it as if she didn't her day in court would be ten times worse."
Harpel's allegation about his electronic communications being illegally accessed pertains to the hacking incident. The defamation allegation pertains to the fact Franson badmouthed him in the restraining order but then had it dismissed before Harpel could defend himself in court.
"Ms. Franson chose to cast a dark cloud over a lot of good innocent people, and in my opinion that is completely...unacceptable!" Harpel wrote in an email sent to us earlier today.
Finally, Harpel alleges Franson broke a contract with him by not reimbursing money he loaned her during their relationship.
Harpel emailed us this statement about his lawsuit, reprinted here in full and unedited:
In 2012 Ms. Franson made statements about me in a petition for a harassment restraining order. The statements deeply harmed my family's long standing and very highly regarded reputation. After I filed pleadings contesting her claims Ms. Franson dismissed her petition, denying me an opportunity to defend and exonerate myself. I have made several good faith attempts to resolve this matter privately but those attempts have been unsuccessful. On the advice of my attorney I have now started a defamation lawsuit against Ms. Franson. The Complaint sets forth my claim in detail and is on file with the Douglas County Court. I look forward to finally having the opportunity to share my version of events.To read Franson's statement about the lawsuit, click to page two.