Volume 79, Number 7 | July 22 - 28, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Candidate was accused of harassment in custody case

By Josh Rogers

City Council candidate Pete Gleason was accused of harassment by the mother of his child soon after she gave birth to their son almost nine years ago.

The couple had split up before Gleason’s ex-girlfriend gave birth, and after the breakup, she accused him of showing up uninvited to her doctor’s appointments, making repeated calls and constantly checking up on her whereabouts. On Jan. 11, 2001, about a month after the baby was born, Gleason came to the mother’s Manhattan apartment to visit with their son and refused to remain in the baby’s room, according to an affidavit she filed in New York Civil Supreme Court in February 2001.

She said he walked around her entire apartment with their son while looking through photos and other personal belongings. Gleason, now 46, “in effect, controlled my entire apartment with his meanderings and refused to respect my space,” she said in her sworn affidavit.

She called her attorney and then police but did not file a complaint. She says that after police left, Gleason, an attorney, accused her of assaulting him with her leg, “supposedly” while she was nursing their son.

There is no indication she ever accused Gleason of using or threatening violence and she did not ask for an order of protection, although she did say she was frightened. The mother, who now considers Gleason to be a good friend and father, got temporary custody of the baby.

For the next visit, the mother had Gleason meet her at her parents’ home on Long Island. He showed up with a video camera to document the visit and refused to take the baby directly from her until her father stood close to supervise the exchange, according to her affidavit. There was a similar encounter on the next visit. The mother said he refused to leave her parents’ home and stayed five hours at least one time.

(In response to requests from the woman and from Gleason, The Villager has decided not to publish her name.)

The baby’s grandmother recently said that the tension from 2001 is mostly gone and “things have changed 97 percent for the better.”

Attorney Patricia Ann Fersch, who represented the mother and is a founder of the Family Law Center, submitted an affidavit in the case, saying she did not think Gleason’s conduct rose to the need for an order of protection, but she did think it constituted harassment and felt Gleason used his legal knowledge to intimidate the mother and pressure her into a joint-custody arrangement.

The mother did not want to be interviewed but sent a statement to the paper last week.

“Pete Gleason is a loving father, a good man and a close friend,” she said. “It is important to have him in my son’s life. Whatever happened years ago is a personal matter and has nothing to do with the current political race. The Pete Gleason I know is a kind and decent man who is dedicated to serving his community. Although I find it deplorable that this election has brought the dirt of New York City politics into my family, I know Pete Gleason will be an energetic, inspired and devoted City Councilmember.”

The court documents are public records and were provided to The Villager by a source unfriendly to Gleason. They were not supplied recently and it was not done as a direct or indirect effort on the part of any of the campaigns competing against Gleason.

The Villager first informed Gleason that the paper had documents with the prior accusations against him several weeks ago. He declined an interview request then and subsequent ones.

Gleason sent a prepared statement to the paper last week: “I love my son,” he said. “Some time ago his mother and I had a difficult custody dispute which was amicably resolved. I share custody of my son and have a great relationship with his mother. This race is about real solutions for the many issues facing our neighborhoods,” he said, citing affordable housing, education and quality-of-life issues.

Before becoming a lawyer, Gleason worked as a police officer and firefighter in Manhattan. He lives in Tribeca and ran for City Council in 2003, when he was trounced by one of his current opponents, Councilmember Alan Gerson. This year, in a five-person Democratic primary field, Gleason appears to be a much stronger candidate having won the support of Downtown Independent Democrats and of several local political leaders who supported Gerson in the past. The Democratic primary is Tues., Sept. 15.

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