In this town everyone knows your name, which is precisely why a high-profile case of a Lewiston-Porter School Board member accused of stalking a district teacher and his family was moved out of the town Tuesday.
Nearly 70 friends and relatives packed Lewiston Town Court to show support for either School Board member Leonard Palumbo, who has been charged with fourth-degree stalking, or the Sweeney family, which has accused him.
Judge Hugh Gee said both town judges have recused themselves and the case now will go to Niagara County Court to be reassigned.
Attorney Damon DeCastro, who represents Katherine Sweeney said that in cases such as this the court usually assigns it to an adjacent town, but he said Porter will not be considered because it is also in the Lewiston-Porter School District.
Eighth-grade social studies teacher Richard Sweeney has said that Palumbo has been stalking his family for several months, causing his wife to fear for her safety.
Palumbo, 39, of Lower River Road, was charged by state police Sunday with slowing down and stopping his vehicle in the middle of the road while Katherine Sweeney was walking down it. An order of protection was issued by Gee, and he said Palumbo must take a different route to avoid the Sweeney family.
Palumbo has called the charges "completely false" and told The Buffalo News on Tuesday that since he lives just eight houses away from the Sweeney family, he had just been driving a route he would normally take.
School Board President David Schaubert said he was in court Tuesday to support Palumbo and called the whole incident "a political situation" and "a direct assault on the School Board."
He said he expects this matter to be discussed at Tuesday's board meeting.
Sweeney said Palumbo has denied him coaching positions because he has been an outspoken opponent of the board but has called the "stalking" a personal attack.
"This has nothing to do with me as a teacher. The people who are here tonight are here to support my wife. This [incident] involves her and her safety," said Sweeney.