Mahopac Resident Alleges Cyber-Bullying Originated from Trustee’s Work Place

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William Staviski
William Staviski

Mahopac resident and former school board candidate William Staviski presented the Mahopac Central School District Board of Education with a formal written complaint and a request for investigation at its Tuesday, June 12 meeting. The complaint alleges that a “cyber-bullying” email was sent to Staviski by a fictitious person named “Michael Meyers” a few days before this year’s school board election and allegedly was sent from a White Plains law firm where school board trustee Raymond Cote is a partner.

Staviski, who ran for the Mahopac Board of Education this past spring and came in fifth out of five candidates who were running for three open seats, spoke during the public comment portion at the board’s meeting and began by describing the circumstances behind “Meaghan’s Law;” that was passed in Missouri after a teenage girl committed suicide after being bullied online by a classmate’s mother who was impersonating a teenage boy.

“Bullying, cyber-bullying specifically, it’s a very widespread, serious issue that stands before our children right now in all the districts and communities…how do we stop it? I’m not sure. Is anyone immune from it? I don’t know. Recently myself, I was a victim of cyber-bullying,” Staviski said during the public meeting. “Just over a month ago, I had an entity create a fictitious email account and a fictitious name, Michael Meyers, [and] email me and several community members spreading around disingenuous information about me…most alarming to me was that the email that did originate from Mr. Michael Meyers, this fictitious entity, originated from the law firm of Mr.Cote, who sits before us.”

“Excuse me? What?,” Cote responded in hearing the allegation from Staviski.

Staviski’s compliant also included documentation that alleges to show that the IP address associated with the “cyber-bullying”email traces back to Cote’s law firm and matches the IP address of another email that Staviski alleges Cote confirmed he sent to Staviski several days later.

The email, the text of which was included in Staviski’s complaint, questioned if Staviski was lying about biographical information he shared during his campaign for the Board of Education, including being a Mahopac Sports Association [MSA] football coach, the chief financial officer of a non profit and a participant on U.S. Congresswoman Nan Hayworth’s homeland security committee. “Michael Meyers” identified himself as an MSA coach and wrote he was copying all of the MSA tackle football coaches and board members on the email. The complaint also includes Staviski’s response to the allegedly fictitious emailer offering explanation and ways to confirm all of these things were true.

Staviski said that in 2008, New York State passed its own version of “Meaghan’s Law.” In his written complaint he cited New York State Penal Code Section 190.25(4) that makes it a Class A misdemeanor to impersonate, “another  by  communication  by  internet  website  or electronic  means  with  intent to obtain a benefit or injure or defraud another…”

Mahopac school board President Penny Swift said to Staviski that he could talk about bullying in general at the open meeting, but not about specific allegations pertaining to a board trustee.

“If you are discussing children’s bullying that is an issue that can be addressed in public. But if it has to do with personnel, regarding staff, or the Board of Education, I’m going to have to ask you to refrain from talking about that in public,” Swift said.

Staviski then handed out copies of his written complaint to the board members, including to Cote.

“The State of New York v. Michael Meyers? No, you are standing here accusing me of a crime?,”Cote said after looking at the complaint. “This is on the record? I just want to make sure this is on the record.”

Staviski responded by saying that he was not accusing Cote of a crime but that he was accusing “Michael Meyers” of a crime.

The Mahopac Board of Education then adjourned for a short time to discuss the matter behind closed doors.

Upon their return, Board President Swift addressed Staviski.

“We are in receipt of your information, it’s on the record and at this time we are going to share this information with legal counsel.”

When asked after the meeting if there was any truth to Staviski’s allegation,Cote said there was not.

“There is absolutely no truth to it. As I said while in executive session, I know three things for sure: one day I am going to die, I have got to pay taxes and I had nothing to do with that email,” said Cote, who was elected to Mahopac school board in 2011.

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