By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — The Massachusetts Republican Party is calling on City Council candidate Robert LeBlanc to end his campaign following a report that he “stalked” a former area high school student, among other allegations.
Several candidates running against LeBlanc also weighed in on the allegations yesterday.
“If these allegations and accusations are true, as a parent and a grandparent I find them very disturbing,” said Sharon Birchall, who is one of five candidates seeking three at-large seats in the Nov. 5 municipal election.
The Eagle-Tribune reported last week that LeBlanc — a well-known lawyer, former Methuen town manager and current attorney for the state Democratic party — was sent letters banning him from the campus of Greater Lawrence Technical School in 2005, and from all Barnes & Noble bookstores in 2002.
LeBlanc, 68, of 2 Plumwood Drive, said the letters are baseless and were circulated as a personal attack.
On Tuesday, WBZ-TV reported that LeBlanc “stalked ... and propositioned” former GLTS student Kevin Marr in 2005, prompting the then-senior to file a police report and GLTS to issue LeBlanc a no-trespass letter.
WBZ-TV also cited a police report from 2000 in which LeBlanc allegedly followed a male customer into a Barnes & Noble bathroom and “touched himself inappropriately” in front of a urinal.
LeBlanc, who served as Methuen town manager from 1976 to 1981, has not been charged in connection with any of the allegations. He did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.
In a statement yesterday, the Massachusetts Republican Party described the allegations as “a pattern of alleged harassment and lewd acts by a high-profile lawyer and Democratic candidate for City Council in Methuen.”
“If these disturbing allegations are true, the Massachusetts Democratic Party should cut ties with Mr. LeBlanc and he should end his campaign today,” said MassGOP Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes. “We cannot allow people who engage in this reprehensible behavior to be in positions of power and influence.”
LeBlanc is running against fellow challengers Birchall, James Jajuga and Daniel Grayton and incumbent councilor-at-large Joyce Campagnone. Campagnone did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.
Jajuga said the allegations against LeBlanc “raised some serious issues and serious questions.”
“He’s got to look at that and he’s got to think about the voters,” said Jajuga. “If he decides to stay in (the race) the voters will probably respond. ... He’s at a crossroads, quite frankly. I think he’s got a big decision to make.”
Contacted yesterday, Grayton said he will continue “talking about the issues” facing Methuen.
“Bob LeBlanc’s issues are between him and the voters,” said Grayton.
The allegations against LeBlanc have already cost him at least one union endorsement.
LeBlanc was among a group of City Council candidates to meet with members of the Methuen Police Patrolmen’s Association on Monday. Yesterday, union President Tom McMenamon Jr. told The Eagle-Tribune that the union decided it would not endorse LeBlanc after the reports.
The WBZ-TV report featured separate on-camera interviews with LeBlanc and Marr, the former GLTS student.
LeBlanc told a television reporter that they had the wrong person. “I think he’s an absolute liar,” Marr responded.
Marr told WBZ-TV that in 2005, LeBlanc asked him if he wanted a massage while Marr was working at the Rockingham Mall in Salem, N.H. Marr said LeBlanc then handed him a piece of paper with his name and phone number on it.
“He gave that to me and told me to call him if I changed my mind,” said Marr.
WBZ-TV reported that GLTS sent LeBlanc a no-trespass letter “after Marr told school officials he’d seen LeBlanc at his school, apparently there for a meeting.”
The Eagle-Tribune reported last week that a lawyer representing GLTS sent LeBlanc a no-trespass notice on April 11, 2005, prohibiting him from “entering any portion” of the school’s Andover campus. The school serves Methuen, as well as Andover, North Andover and Lawrence. A call to GLTS Superintendent John Lavoie was not returned yesterday.
LeBlanc told The Eagle-Tribune last week that he never received the letter but has heard about its existence. He said the letter is based on a “non-event” that resulted in an accusation against him by school officials.
“An accusation was made — proven to be not true,” said LeBlanc. “I can’t remember that far back. I can’t remember what it was about.”
LeBlanc said he was at his winter home in Florida at the time the accusation was made. Despite the letter, LeBlanc said he is not barred from the campus and, to his knowledge, never has been.
LeBlanc said he did receive the Barnes & Noble letter. The letter is dated April 9, 2002, and signed by Dana E. Giannotti, the company’s northeast regional loss prevention manager.
“I have been advised of your previous activities in our Salem, New Hampshire bookstore, including those on Tuesday, April 2, 2002,” wrote Giannotti. “Please be advised you are no longer welcome in any Barnes & Noble store, specifically the store located at 125 S. Broadway in Salem, N.H. If you choose to trespass, store management is instructed to notify their local law enforcement agency to file a criminal trespass complaint.”
LeBlanc told The Eagle-Tribune that the Barnes & Noble ban “was lifted way back.”
“The only thing I can recall there is I was up reading a book and fell asleep and I was snoring and had none-too-pleasant a conversation with their manager,” said LeBlanc. “That’s all I can remember.”
According to the WBZ-TV report, LeBlanc allegedly followed a male customer into a Barnes & Noble bathroom in 2000 and “touched himself inappropriately” in front of a urinal. The customer told police he “didn’t actually see (it) but that he knows what it sounds like,” according to a police report from 2000 cited by the television station.