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Jury: Posts About Superintendent Were Defamatory

OSWEGO, NY – It took a jury about 2½ hours to rule that former Oswego school board member Fran Hoefer defamed Middletown school Superintendent Ken Eastwood in a 2010 blog posting.

On Friday, the Orange County Supreme Court jury found that the statements by Hoefer, posted on the Inside Middletown Schools blog March 6, 2010 — allegations about “abuse” of an honor student by Eastwood, that he’d used his position to get better grades for his daughter and that the district reserve account was discovered to be depleted after Eastwood’s 2004 departure from Oswego — were defamatory, according to an article published in today’s Times Herald-Record.

The court had already ruled that the claims about grades and abuse were false; the jury also found the reserve-depletion claim to be false, and that Hoefer made his blog statement either knowing that the claim was false or with reckless disregard for its falsity, according to the Times Herald-Record.

“Twelve years of hell is over,” Dr. Eastwood told Oswego County Today tonight.

It seemed as if as soon as Hoefer came on the (Oswego) board, he was out to get people left and right, the former Oswego Schools Superintendent said.

“It accelerated over time and then I left. About two years ago, he came down here (Middletown) with the explicit purpose in mind to get me,” Dr. Eastwood said. “That’s when I decided enough is enough.”

The pair was at odds in Oswego while Dr. Eastwood was superintendent. He moved to Middletown in mid 2004 to take the superintendent job there.

The superintendent claims Hoefer “did everything he could to defame me, my family and my children.”

“The case is in mid-stream. The jury is coming back on Thursday to continue deliberations. Then the judge will have to rule on our motion to set aside the verdict as Mr. Hoefer had factual basis for each and every statement and none was made with actual malice,” Hoefer’s lawyer, Michael Sussman, told Oswego County Today. “So, we are a ways away from any appeal. The case is very much still ongoing in the Supreme Court … the lowest court.”

“I’m shocked,” Sussman added. “I’m sure there will be an appeal.”

Dr. Eastwood said he is glad it’s over and feels sorry for many people in the Oswego community – adults and students – who had to suffer because of Hoefer’s actions.

“I left, tried to be professional about it and put it all behind me,” Dr. Eastwood said. “I didn’t want to go to court, but needed to. I got a feeling of deep satisfaction when the jury came back with its decision on Friday.”

On Thursday, the jury will hear arguments on punitive damages.

5 Comments

  1. Mr Eastman is far from the innocent he portrays. That man dragged whatever good was left in this school district, right down the drain and through the mud. He states that he left, that is true and many Oswegonians clapped all the way behind him to the door. Mr Eastman seems to forget that the rest of the people of the city, have memories and they don’t all match his.

  2. Another case of Fran letting his pelican mouth overload his hummingbird a**. I never liked Eastwood and thought he caused more harm than good a superintendent but, Hoefer was and is a loose cannon.

  3. Everything in the Oswego School District has always been a train wreck. Fran Hoefer is just one of the many clowns that make up the circus here. The many comments last week about the unsatisfactory Middle School and KPS principals who, whose ignorance and arrogance perpetuate what dooms Oswego, and are allowed to continue working are just the tip of the iceberg. They are just one of many reasons why Oswego is on the bottom of every list; test scores, high drop out rate, low grad rate. It always amazes me that, despite the handicap of growing up in Oswego, some kids are able to escape Oswego and make it elsewhere. Ah, the resilience of youth.

  4. All investigations of Mr. Hoefer’s accusations towards Ken Eastwood were found to be false. Yet he posted these accusations
    in a Middletown blog of his own creation?
    These are not the actions of a competent citizen trying to do good for a community, they are the actions of a child.
    Nick Mauro is guilty for contacting this sick man to come to our town.

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