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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

UPDATED x2: Surveillance Video Released Appears to Contradict Statements in Reporters Charges Against Galloway Councilman

Donna Weaver, Facebook
UPDATED x2 (Nov 16, 2013): Press Reporter Donna Weaver and Councilman Jim McElwee appeared in Hamilton Township Court on November 12, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. Weaver represented herself as Joseph Levin, Esq., represented McElwee. 

Upon agreement between both parties, the matter has been moved to mediation. The mediation will take place in Hamilton Township Court on January 28, 2014. According to Levin, Weaver listed Mayor Don Purdy's wife and mother as her witnesses. Neither Michelle Purdy or Rita Purdy appeared in court today on behalf of Weaver.

Galloway Township News will provide updates as they become available. 

Original Story (Oct 22, 2013):
On October 9, 2013, Press Reporter Donna Weaver filed a complaint against Galloway Councilman Jim McElwee.  The complaint filed in Galloway Township, was subsequently transferred to Hamilton Township Municipal Court in Mays Landing. According to the Atlantic County Prosecutors Office, the complaint was transferred due to a conflict pertaining to McElwee's position in Galloway as a Councilman.  

On October 16, 2013, Hamilton Township Municipal Judge H. Robert Switzer found probable cause in Weaver's complaint and charged Jim McElwee with offensive touching.

On October 21, 2013, Hamilton Township Municipal Court released Donna Weaver's handwritten Voluntary Statement completed and signed by Donna Weaver on October 9, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Confirmed today by Hamilton Township Municipal Court, Weaver and McElwee are due in court on November 12, 2013 at 4:00pm. The original date in October was postponed by the Court.

Weaver's statement, as released below, gives her account as to what happened in the Municipal Court Lobby on October 8, 2013, while Council was still in Executive Session. Galloway Township News obtained the surveillance video of the Lobby and have released same to the public on October 18, 2013. The video which has over 400 hits on YouTube, might possible tell a completely different story than what Weaver provided in her statement to Police.

Weaver's statement to Police states, "I had my back to the entrance door to the Municipal Building and was speaking to a group of individuals, including (Anna Jedisky (sic) and her daughter, Mrs. Purdy (Mayor Don Purdy's wife) and Mayor Purdy's mother. All of the sudden I felt someone's body standing against my body and then I felt hands in my hair and breathing on the back of my neck. The fingers started pulling on my hair as to they continued to stand with their body against my body. I spun around and saw it was Council Jim McElwee. I immediately asked him why he was touching me. He responded ,"I'm a freak, I'm a freak." I stepped further away and then McElwee walked away to the other side of the lobby.  *When McElwee initially walked through the door Cliff Sudler was right behind."

According to the video, it clearly shows at one point prior to McElwee entering the lobby, Weaver turned her body slightly towards to the door at the same time McElwee was entering. Contrary to her statement. Weaver also states that McElwee was standing so close to her that she felt his body and breath on the back of her neck. 


According to the video, there is visible distance between her and McElwee, in fact, enough distance that Weaver was able to turn around without McElwee moving or without her touching McElwee. The alleged touching incident according to Weaver occurred within five (5) seconds of McElwee entering the Lobby. Weaver also claims the fingers of McElwee was pulling on her hair. Within those five seconds according to Weaver's statement, McElwee entered the room, walked up to her body, breathed on her and pulled her hair. McElwee appears to be twisting a rubber band in his hands at his waist 5 seconds into the video.

According to Weaver's statement, she claims she stepped further away and then McElwee walked away to the other side of the lobby.  Weaver left out of her sworn complaint that she stood talking to McElwee for 1 minute and 42 seconds after this alleged incident occurred.   

The conversation Weaver had with McElwee in part was her stating she had a four year degree in journalism and continued to speak negatively about an individual who spoke in the public portion of the Council Meeting, criticizing an article she wrote in the Press of Atlantic City about OPRA Requests and costs in Galloway Township.  Weaver continued to follow McElwee across the lobby and continued the conversation. At one point, Weaver is laughing at a comment that was made. Weaver did not include that in her statement. 

Weaver also states, Cliff Sudler was right behind McElwee when he entered the Lobby. The video clearly shows Sudler walking in the Lobby and Weaver seeing him, since it only took less than 5 seconds for Weaver to turn around.

Weaver continues in her statement, "Just after 9pm, I called McElwee on his cell phone. He did not answer. About 2 minutes later McElwee called my cell phone back and I answered." Galloway Township News was able to confirm a 3 minute phone conversation occurred between Donna Weaver and Jim McElwee at 9:17pm.

Weaver states she told McElwee on the phone, "he was never to put his hands on me again. I said what happened was inappropriate offensive and over the line. He responded that that was just him being friendly. He added that he didn't mean anything by it. I told him it was never to happen agains and he said he was sorry he offended me. I told him being friendly does not mean he can put his hands on me."

Galloway Township News was provided with several tips after news broke regarding Weaver's complaint against McElwee. The tips Galloway Township News received were specific enough that we filed an Open Public Records request for the surveillance video detailing footage from inside the Court Room, specifically for after the meeting adjourned until everyone exited the Court Room at the end of the night. 

The tip we received alleged that Donna Weaver, Mayor Don Purdy, Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola and Councilman Brian Tyrrell were discussing the incident that occurred between Weaver and McElwee. The tip also alleged that Mayor Don Purdy had placed his hands on Weaver, as well as Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola while they were alone in the Court Room. 

Galloway Township News obtained the video of the Court Room and we were able to confirm the tip and allegations we received.  At 8:36 p.m., Council reconvened into Public session and Mayor Don Purdy immediately adjourned the meeting prior to everyone entering into the Court Room. 

Mayor Don Purdy in the video footage that points to the Back of the Court Room (Click Here), clearly shows Mayor Don Purdy speaking with his wife, Michelle Purdy and his mother, Rita Purdy. After they leave, Mayor Don Purdy walks to front of the Court Room. 

In the video footage referencing the Front of Court Room (Click Here), Donna Weaver walks to the dais and begins to speak with Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola and Brian Tyrrell.  At one point, you see Weaver looking to the back of the Court Room following where Mayor Don Purdy is going as he walks to speak to his wife. During this time, Township Clerk TC Kay walks in between the conversation occurring between Weaver, Coppola and Tyrrell, several times. 

Weaver follows Coppola and Tyrrell towards the exit door and meets up with Mayor Don Purdy as he joins in on the conversation. The four continue their conversation for another eleven minutes. Township Clerk TC Kay continues to walk in between them until she exits the Court Room. After the Clerk exits, the conversation appears to turn intense between Mayor Don Purdy and Donna Weaver. At one point, Purdy is pointing at Weaver with his two fingers to his eyes and then to her eyes. 

It also appears to be a reenactment of what Weaver portrayed to be the incident between her and McElwee. It also appears at one point, Purdy moves his arm along the back of Weaver. Galloway Township Court confirmed today no complaints have been filed against Mayor Don Purdy by Donna Weaver.

Towards the end of the conversation, you see Mayor Don Purdy walking to the back of the court room to turn the lights off, at the same time, Weaver, Coppola and Tyrrell are up front and still in the room when the lights go out. The footage ends at that point.

Township Clerk TC Kay declined to comment to Galloway Township News when we asked if the conversation between the Councilman and Donna Weaver pertained to the allegations against McElwee. We can foresee when this case heads to court, Kay will mostly be called in as a witness. We also can foresee, Coppola and Tyrrell also being called in as witnesses, potentially for the defense

As there is no audio to the video of the conversation taking place, the body language speaks more than words could potentially say. 

Chief of Police Patrick Moran returned our request for comment by only stating he was vacation.  We asked Moran if any of the individuals were aware they were being recorded. We also asked why Moran prepared a supplemental report that is exempt as criminal investigatory records and if had viewed the video of the court room as it pertains to what might have occurred regarding touching between Weaver and Purdy. 

Interim Editor Peter Brophy, of the Press of Atlantic City had no comment regarding this new video. We also asked if Brophy was aware if Donna Weaver was allegedly coerced into signing a complaint against McElwee based on the video footage released by the Township with Weaver speaking with three members of Council after the meeting. Brophy had no comment. 

Weaver signed the voluntary statement saying she was making the statement without any threat, coercion, offer of benefit, favor or offer of favor, leniency or offer of leniency by any person or persons whomsoever. 

We asked Brophy, how Weaver being a well established reporter would mistake or perhaps, leave out such pertinent information, specifically in a criminal complaint. Weaver never stated in her complaint when she gives a timeline of events, what happened when she left the lobby, entered the court room and then called McElwee minutes later after she had a lengthy conversation with three members of Council. 

Mayor Don Purdy commented to the Current“I am not in a position to comment specifically on the situation,” Purdy said. “Galloway Township will do what we can to assist law enforcement in their investigation and will withhold additional comment while the investigation is ongoing.”

Purdy just may have become part of the investigation based on this video released by the Galloway Township Police detailing a conversation that appears to lead Weaver to the complaint against McElwee. 

Sources indicated today, Purdy was not aware the video of the Court Room was released, in fact, we were told he believes the video would not be released. Galloway Township News has released the video in full. 

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

How does a reporter leave out all of that information. Why did Galloway Police advise her to sign a complaint that may come back and bite her in the you know where.

Anonymous said...

Did Purdy witness the incident? Doesn't appear so. So how can he be a witness based on hearsay? So is anyone she spoke to about what occurred now a potential witness? Lots of assumptions here.

Anonymous said...

So if Purdy lead Weaver to file a complaint against his opponent in an election race, that is pretty serious stuff right there. But not surprised. Thats the Purdy Politic Way. He is now the underdog in a losing race.

Anonymous said...

Does Weaver not realize that there are cameras everywhere?

Anonymous said...

Maybe she'll be able to get a job with the Mainland Journal after this fubr!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks to me as if she backed up to him. I'm thinking he was set up.

Anonymous said...

I knew that was Mrs. Jezycki filing back into council chambers after the alleged incident! If anything funny happened in that hallway, chances are she saw it!
Anonymous001

Anonymous said...

Where was Weaver before she was in lobby? With Purdy.

Anonymous said...

And why is she watching Purdy walk to his wife. Thats obsession to me, does she have something for him. Weaver may have put herself in a political war in Galloway.

Anonymous said...

I just tried to do anything she said happened in 5 seconds and its impossible. And she turns around in 4 1/2 seconds. A sneeze takes half that time. Her statement is false.

Anonymous said...

Defense wins with this. Mayor Purdy should just come forward and admit his involvement in this. The video is clear he was persuading her to file the complaint. He's even putting his hands up like don't involve me but do what I say. He obviously didn't know he was being recorded.

Anonymous said...

This is absolute bull. A waste of everyone's time. There are much more important issues that need to be handled in our society. How convenient that this happens right at election time. It is plain to see what is going on here.............

Anonymous said...

If its proven that Weaver was involved in a set up while on the job reporting news in Galloway Township I would assume this is inappropriate behavior on her part and as an employee of the Press of AC would conflict with whatever code of conduct they have for their employees.

Anonymous said...

It must suck to think you have the perfect scheme, only to find out later that you are on videotape that proves you are a liar. Now a reporters reputation is ruined, and Purdy has involved Tyrrell and Coppolla. Could Galloway be anymore pathetic?

Anonymous said...

As a registered Republican it is painful to see what Purdy has done to this town. Now he has involved Tyrrell and Coppola. Until a Republican candidate or councilman steps up and demands Purdy's resignation, I hate to say it, I am voting Democrat. I would suggest my fellow Republicans do the same thing. The swamp needs to be drained.

Anonymous said...

Track history of the Purdy administrator. Use people untill they lose their jobs or get demoted and then they lose their job.

Anonymous said...

The video is too dark to see if anything happened. That guy should keep his grubby hands to himself.

Anonymous said...

The first thing we do, let's get rid of all the incumbents.

Anonymous said...

The is an exceptional report. Taking into account that a news reporter is able to obtain to surveillance footage that should have been used by the Court in a probable cause hearing, and dissects it piece by piece, is nothing more than top notch reporting. I hope the Press of Atlantic City sees this and disciplines this reporter properly. The court system will handle the charges, but the Press needs to handle this employee. The should be fired.

Anonymous said...

i agree with all of the above. Psst, i hear The Press may have an opening for a reporter...

Anonymous said...

Throwing everything and the kitchen sink on this. Absolutely a masterpiece. Great job Lisa.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness she doesn't cover Atlantic City, they don't need another lawsuit stemming from frivolous claims like this.

Anonymous said...

I believe at one time Donna Weaver covered Atlantic City. She has had problems in Atlantic County and Ocean County. The Press needs to have a sit down with her. Don Purdy never should have brought Tony Coppola or Brian Tyrrell into this mess of his. Tony is a great guy and to be tangled in this mess will certainly hurt his chance to run in two years, and that would be a shame for the Republican Party. Viewing the videos gives a greater appearance of a scheme being cooked up. Tony and Brian need to clear themselves from this guy so they can regain their reputation for our community. The political attacks everywhere Countywide this year have been down right dirty. We need people to run for Council, not politicians.

Rossi

Anonymous said...

In the video of the court room when Donna Weaver walks up to Don Purdy, her hands move in a fist fighting movement. She is close to the Mayor. Does she have anger management issues. There is certainly some type of relationship between the Mayor and Weaver. Doesn't he fix her car too?

Anonymous said...

So what else is new in the Township of Galloway? I personally think that there is a lot more to this story than what is being told. Old tactics just revisited years later.

Anonymous said...

Another Lawsuit that will cost Galloway tax payers....ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

I heard there a hired mouthpiece in Galloway assuming names of deceased people. A local doctor perhaps should be investigated. Don't give it to the Press because they maybe working for OneGalloway. Nice advertisement too by OneGalloway on the Press site. Now we know why Donna Weaver is so involved with the Purdy.

Rossi

Anonymous said...

As a registered republican I received in the mail today Purdy's latest slam piece on Jim McElwee. He wasted no time printing yet to be proven accusations in a full page color mailer. Obviously Purdy has taken a page out of the Keith Davis "How To Win Elections" handbook. Smear your opponent first, care about the truth second. What I find most ironic is the bold headline: "His legal issues become even more troubling." , referring to McElwee. Question, how many lawsuits have been settled at the taxpayers expense that our Mayor was directly involved in, at least two. How many new lawsuits have been filed by former employees directly mentioning Purdy, at least one. Mr Mayor, you don't find those multiple legal issues troubling? I know as a taxpayer, I sure do. News flash Mr. Mayor, your mudslinging will not work.

Anonymous said...

Give me am f'ing break!! The "publisher" did that to Gargione right here. She slammed him on accusations, dug it deeper by stating it was around children. Then made it more dramatic by announcing Breaking News!!!! But with McElwee the stories are wrists muchness invasive. I know this won't be published because tingles against the agenda here.

Anonymous said...

Did the "publisher" mail out a full page, 2 sided color brochure about Mr. Gargione? Or did she just print the news? Seems to me that she just printed the news that another Republican Council candidate had a legal issue. (This is not an unusual occurrence.)

Do the people or person that continually support our Mayor on this site ever read other newspapers or websites? The grammar and spelling in most of his/their comments would suggest not. However, the reason I ask, do you also get so aggravated at the NY Times when it always spins their "reporting" to protect our President and his agenda. Do you get mad at the Washington Post? Or do you just save your anger for the only media outlet that is attempting to inform Galloway Taxpayers what is happening to our town?

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious....Why is this reporter at a bar in Smithville with the some of the elected officials? What if there are three of them there, is that a violation of the Sunshine laws? Someone should ask Lucy and Ricky....

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