Methuen School Committee member's livestream prompts complaint

File photoSchool Committee member Ryan DiZoglio.

METHUEN — School Committee member Ryan DiZoglio was having trouble getting a solid video connection with his audience during a Facebook Live broadcast in late January. As a result, he said, he turned off the broadcast.

Or so he thought.

Turns out the livestream, which he has done regularly since getting elected to his first term last year, was still connected to some listeners.

During that time, DiZoglio may have spoken a little too candidly for some people's liking, at least one of whom complained to Mayor Neil Perry last month about what he or she heard.

"I received an email from one resident concerned about the content of his live video," Perry wrote in a text message last week. "I have not received any other allegations. If the allegations are found to be true, the school committeeman would have to reassess if he should continue to serve the community. Residents in this community deserve the respect of ALL elected officials."

DiZoglio denies the allegations. 

"They are saying I said something about white privilege mothers and smoking bongs," DiZoglio said during an interview. "I would never say that."

But, he added, "If they have audio, I'll admit to it."

DiZoglio concedes that for this particular Facebook Live show at the end of January, he was at a friend's house with two other people. But, he said, he did not say what some people claim to have heard.

He said the allegations are just "rumors." He also said the livestream has been removed from Facebook, his account was hacked, and he has filed a harassment complaint with the police.

The Eagle-Tribune has been unable to ascertain whether DiZoglio did, in fact, file a harassment claim against someone in the community. Police Capt. Randy Haggar did not return several calls seeking confirmation of a complaint. Acting Chief Kristopher McCarthy did not return a phone call or email.

In any event, DiZoglio maintains the accusations are politically motivated by Bob Leblanc, who served as town manager from 1976 to 1981, before Methuen implemented a mayoral form of government in 1993.

"It's true I made some comments on Facebook, but they were generated by a number of people who heard the language on the livestream and were quite shocked and thought it was inappropriate," said Leblanc, who said he is not the source of the complaint made to Perry. "It's not politics. It's about the conduct of an elected official."

Leblanc said he was not aware of any kind of harassment complaint filed by DiZoglio.

While Perry, who is also a School Committee member, would comment, the other five members of the committee said they either didn't know anything about it or didn't want to speak on the record.

Vice Chairwoman Jana Zanni-Pesce, who is a lawyer, said she wants to see — or in this case hear — evidence before making a determination one way or another.

"I have no comment until I see proof of what was broadcast to the public," she said. "As an attorney, I deal in fact, not rumors."

But if evidence surfaces, she added, "we'd bring it to the committee." 

As for DiZoglio, he said, "I'm moving forward."

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