CHICAGO, Nov. 5, 2015 – A North Carolina man who said he was a part of a conspiracy involving a powerful state legislator to destroy him in his divorce has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the politician and his ex-wife, CDN has learned.
William Neil Shelton, who was featured in a CDN story in June 2015, Monday filed a $12 million lawsuit on against North Carolina State Rep. Sarah Stevens, Stevens’ law firm Stevens and Brinkle, her law partner Zack Brinkle and Shelton’s ex-wife.
In the CDN story, Shelton alleged that he was the subject of a bogus restraining order that led to an ex-parte hearing, without Shelton present, in which his custodial rights were removed; Shelton hasn’t seen either of his two children in more than a thousand days.
The harassment tactic was the result of attorney Stevens advising Shelton’s ex-wife to secure a restraining order against him despite, he says, this fact: “The assemblywoman admitted on the record that I did not commit any acts of violence against my ex-wife or children, yet she continues to pursue arrests.”
Although he was arrested 79 times by the Mayberry Police Department, the district attorney failed to charge or convict him of any charges. Those arrests were based on bogus violations of the restraining order, which the courts renewed three times over a period of three years, despite a lack of evidence that Shelton ever presented a threat to his ex-wife or children.
Typically, he said divorce lawyers use protective orders to gain leverage in custody matters even if there is no record of violence. “My ex-wife admitted that I never raised a hand to her but she was able to file restraining orders against me anyway.”
Despite any proof that Shelton is an unfit parent, Stevens continues to bully, intimidate, and harass him, he said. “The judge recently ordered me to have a $3,000 psychological evaluation – in addition to the four psychological exams I have already completed, by an evaluator of Stevens’ choice,” said Shelton. “I don’t have $3,000, so I asked that a local group that charges $500 conduct the evaluation.”
This request was denied, he said. “Stevens said if I do not have the $3,000 evaluation done in 30 to 45 days, I will go to jail and lose all custody to the kids,” he said. “I have been routinely threatened by the MAPD to keep quiet and have been falsely imprisoned six times – each time resulting in either acquittals or no-charges.”
On the sixth arrest, in April 2013, he said the state assemblywoman’s law firm produced a letter threatening various officials, alleging that Shelton wrote the letter and leading to his being charged with six felony counts of threatening a court official and six misdemeanor restraining order violations.
Shelton was held captive by law enforcement for one year, keeping him from attending the divorce proceedings, during which the judge gave his ex-wife all assets and sole custody.
In one instance, Shelton was arrested for threatening Stevens after a letter purportedly written by him was produced; Shelton was jailed until two days after his divorce.
Shelton was released after the prosecutor’s office determined his handwriting didn’t match that of the letter. He was acquitted of all charges by a jury of his peers and released from jail.
A judge from an outside county, Chester Davis, ruled last month that the restraining order not be renewed, further noting that one should have never been issued in the first place. But he declined to restore any custodial rights, saying the temporary order that followed had been in effect for too long.
Shelton claimed he’s been legally bullied by Stevens since she took the case. “It’s going to go either one of two ways. First, it’s going to go with a restraining order protecting your wife and your children,” Stevens told Shelton the first time they met. “Or you can agree to a $5,000 property settlement and walk out of here today without a restraining order and some supervised visits with your kids.”
“Boy, am I gonna have fun playing with you,” Sarah Stevens said the same day.
Stevens initially denied making this threat when interviewed for the original article but had no further comment after a recording was produced.
Stevens didn’t respond to an email for comment for this story but told the Mount Airy News she planned to sue Shelton: “A lot of other stuff I could just ignore,” she said. “This (the lawsuit) will require an action. I will probably counter-sue for libel and defamation.”
Stevens has made no such threats to CDN or this reporter. Shelton’s story is featured prominently in the book, “Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney’s Kafkaesque Divorce.”
Shelton said the fireworks started even before he filed the lawsuit. With local newsman Bob Buckley trailing him for an upcoming story on the suit, Shelton arrived at office of the Surry County clerk of courts; Shelton said the clerk, Terry O’Dell, called the police when she saw the film crew.
He also said O’Dell told Buckley, “There’s more to this story,” while referring to the suit as frivolous, which Stevens also said to the Mount Airy News.
A voice mail left at O’Dell’s office was unreturned.
Shelton is currently facing another criminal charge over theft of guns. However, a purported video of him entering the home where the guns were allegedly stolen has not been produced as part of the discovery process and a judge has given Surry County officials until the end of November to produce the video or those charges will also be dismissed.
The litany of criminal charges has made Shelton unemployable, he told The Mount Airy News: “I’m penniless, nobody will hire me,” Shelton said, “I’ve never been convicted of a thing.”