After being fired, Library Director in Wyoming files outrageous lawsuit against local family who protested obscene books.
Lawsuit is full of distortions, untruths, and absurd charges – also attacks MassResistance.
Clearly meant to intimidate others from complaining. Appears to be supported by LGBT movement.
October 15, 2023
The Library Director in Campbell County, Wyoming – recently fired for refusing to follow the Library Board’s new policy regarding obscene books – has filed a vicious (and frivolous) lawsuit in federal court against a local family who had complained about the books.
Terri Lesley was fired by the Library Board in July 2023. Now she is suing Hugh and Susan Bennett, who live in Gillette, WY, and their adult son Kevin. Lesley accuses the Bennetts of a laundry list of absurd alleged offenses, including unlawful and unconstitutional conduct, civil conspiracy defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and abuse of process claims. She is demanding financial compensation for a long list of “damages” to her that she alleges.
It is clearly meant to terrorize other parents into silence. Before the Bennetts ever saw it, the lawsuit found its way to the mainstream media across Wyoming. The Bennetts first heard about the lawsuit from a newspaper reporter!
The bizarre lawsuit appears to be supported by the LGBT movement and its allies in the pornography industry. It is obviously meant to punish the Bennetts for expressing their First Amendment rights – and to intimidate others around the country from complaining about obscene books and materials. In addition, the lawsuit attacks (and libels) MassResistance and uses photos from our website.
Background – Two years of parents battling for a clean library
Campbell County is a very conservative area (in a conservative state) which had unfortunately attracted leftist public officials. The firing of Terri Lesley caps two years of fighting by citizens in the county to get the obscenity and graphic sexuality targeting children removed from their public library. (See our posts here.) If anything, the parents should be suing Lesley.
- Horrible books discovered. In the summer of 2021, parents began discovering horrible books in the children’s and teens’ sections of the library. The books were focused on and promoted graphic sexuality and depraved behaviors. Subjects included homosexuality, transgenderism, anal sex, oral sex, bondage and sado-masochism, promiscuity, sex with strangers, “enjoying” pornography, surgically removing genitals, and more. Much of it is written in a particularly lurid fashion. The books lack any redeeming quality.
- Billboards. Parents formed a Wyoming MassResistance chapter. In August 2021 they raised money and paid for billboards to notify people of the problems in the library.
- Testimony by parents – and harassment from leftists. This group of parents also began to testify regularly at the County Commission meetings and Library Board meetings to demand something be done. (The County Commission appoints the Library Board members.) The parents read passages from the books. Terri Lesley also testified, using left-wing American Library Association (ALA) talking points supporting the books. Local leftists would come to insult and harass the parents. Neither the County Commissioners nor the Library Board members would act.
- Library invites “transgender” performer. In July 2021, the Library invited a “transgender” magician to perform for children. Parents protested prior to the event, and the two shows were canceled. The library claimed there were “threats” but could not produce any evidence of that. The next day, LGBT activists defaced a local church with ugly transgender messages.
- Library employee organizes boycott of Bennett’s business. In early August 2021, the library’s Youth Services Librarian (who worked for Terri Lesley) publicly organized a boycott against Hugh Bennett’s business. The Bennetts were selected for this abuse because their online magazine ran an article critical of the “transgender” performer.
- Parents file criminal obscenity complaint – which is rejected. On September 29, Hugh and Susan Bennett showed they were not going to be intimidated. They filed a complaint with the local Sheriff’s office under Wyoming statute 6-2-31, which makes it a crime to “knowingly encourage anyone less than 14 years old to engage in sexual intrusion.” The books were promoting that to children. The complaint was transferred to another county prosecutor to avoid “conflict of interest.” But that county prosecutor cowardly decided that a how-to book for minors on mutual masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex to minors does not constitute “encouragement” of sex, and he refused to act on it.
- Public comment banned at Commission and Library Board meetings. The MassResistance parents continued to demand that their public officials take action on the obscene books. In reaction, both the County Commission and the Library Board banned all public comments at their meetings! The Library Board also voted to keep the obscene books in the library. Terri Lesley continued to defend the books using ALA talking points.
- Re-shuffled County Commission restores public comment. In January 2022, a conservative became Commission chairman and one of the leftist members resigned (and was replaced by a conservative). The County Commission now had a solid conservative majority and they decided to support the Wyoming MassResistance parents. In February, they started by restoring public comment.
- In May 2022, the County Commission cut the library’s budget by $42,000.
- New (conservative) Library Board. In August 2022, the Commission appointed four new conservative members to the Library Board, giving conservatives a 4-1 majority.
- New Library Board cuts ties with ALA. On October 24, 2022 the new Library Board voted to cut all ties with the far-left pro-LGBT American Library Association and its Wyoming affiliate. This drew national attention to the fight.
- New Library Board passes strong policy to keep out porn. MassResistance connected with the pro-family legal group Liberty Counsel to craft an ironclad policy to keep obscene books out and remove current obscenity. In July, the Library Board formally adopted the policy.
- Terri Lesley refuses to follow policy, so is fired. She stated that she would not follow the policy. When they asked her to resign, she refused. So the Library Board voted to fire her.
- Leftists flood Library Board meetings, insult and harass conservatives. Pro-LGBT activists from several neighboring counties flooded into the Library Board meeting on the day that Terri Lesley was officially fired – and also the following meeting – to insult and harass the Library Board members as well as conservative parents who showed up (using quite a bit of profanity). Liberal media across the country (including CNN and the Associated Press) wrote articles supporting Lesley.
The outrageous lawsuit
Terri Lesley’s 44-page lawsuit is surprisingly poorly written for a legal document. It reads like a rambling angry rant. She attacks parents’ testimony in opposition to the obscene books as if their statements were illegal. She portrays criticism of her job performance as personal harassment. (Throughout the document she includes photos from the MassResistance website.) Here are some of the statements, characterizations, and false allegations in her lawsuit:
- She states that there was no pornography in the library. By any common dictionary definition, much of the challenged material is pornographic. Regarding the obscenity laws, she was protected by a loophole exempting libraries from the Wyoming obscenity statute.
- She admits that she actively brought books and materials promoting homosexuality, transgenderism, and other sexual themes into the children’s and teens’ sections, knowing that Campbell County is a conservative region. She also admits that she promoted “Pride Month” despite the County Commission’s wish that she not do that.
- She admits that this conflict is about her personal “advocacy” for so-called “LGBTQ+ people.” She claims that it is “a violation of her constitutional rights” not to allow this advocacy in her job.
- She admits that she was honored by the pro-LGBT American Library Association for so-called “intellectual freedom” and given an award in Washington, DC.
- She goes on for pages horribly vilifying the Bennetts for their negative opinions about Pride Month and LGBT graphic books targeting children. Those opinions are held by millions of parents across the country and are certainly not illegal.
- She states that the County Commission members who want to protect minors do so because of their “intentionally obfuscated anti-LGBTQ+ animus.”
- She suggests that the Bennetts’ concerns about Pride Month will lead to people showing up with guns to cause harm at such events at the library.
- She denigrates the parents in the community as having “hateful ideologies” and uses other slanderous descriptions, and compares the Bennetts to the Ku Klux Klan. She even references a law to protect people from the KKK. (Yet she claims she was the one who was slandered.)
- She states that a reason parents wanted the books removed is that they believe “LGBTQ+ individuals were ‘criminals’ and ‘dangerous’.” That’s a purposeful distortion. People were talking about behaviors being dangerous, not individuals.
- She talks about “threats to her physical safety” but does not offer any evidence of it. Claims of “threats” are a common (and tiresome) LGBT ploy. In fact, the defacing of a church in Gillette, WY in June 2021 by LGBT activists was truly threatening.
- She complains bitterly that the Bennetts hoped to get her fired. Much of the community felt that way. It is not illegal for citizens to want a public employee removed.
- Regarding the Bennetts' complaint to the Sheriff, Lesley claims that they sought to have her “stripped of her liberty, all because they hated a few books containing LGBTQ+ content, ideas, themes, or authors.” That’s another example of her ludicrous distortions.
- Probably the most ridiculous charge: The Bennetts later said that if Lesley had removed the books they wouldn’t have filed the complaint. Lesley claims that this admission constitutes the crime of blackmail!
- She goes on for pages vilifying the Bennetts and other parents for their outrage over the library’s invitation to a transgender performer for a children’s event.
- She vents her outrage over the numerous book challenges filed to the library by the Bennetts and others - all of which she rejected.
- The Bennetts (and other parents) were also opposed to books promoting Critical Race Theory to young children. Lesley suggests that it is because the Bennetts are themselves racist.
- Finally, Lesley admits that she violated the new Library Policy and the specific orders of the Chairman of the Library Board. She gives the ridiculous reason that it would somehow “violate the First Amendment” if she had complied. But the policy had been reviewed by a legal firm which has argued successfully before the US Supreme Court on First Amendment issues.
Terri Lesley reserves special venom for MassResistance:
- She angrily calls MassResistance a “hate group,” and falsely claims that MassResistance has a “play book” for parents outlining confrontational tactics. As “proof” she uses the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is well known as a left-wing extremist hate group that has had to pay out millions of dollars in damages for its false statements about conservatives.
- She alleges that MassResistance President Brian Camenker “continuously” makes certain statements about homosexuals and transgenders, but provides no evidence of any such statements.
- She states that MassResistance targets books with “racially diverse content.” We have never done that.
- She falsely states that Kevin Bennett is the “founder of the MassResistance Wyoming chapter.” That’s another one of her fantasies. None of the Bennetts were ever founders or leaders of the Wyoming MassResistance chapter (or any other chapter).
She attempts to stretch the law for her own ends. She claims that the parents’ continual complaints about the books constituted a “criminal conspiracy” against her. She further claims citizens trying to get her fired was an “unlawful goal.” She says that the parents’ complaints caused her “emotional distress” which also makes them liable for damages.
Lesley is being represented by a Colorado-based so-called “super-lawyer” who worked with Wyoming Equality to get a federal judge to strike down Wyoming’s gay marriage ban. He says, “I like to go back there and just mess with the state as much as I can.”
As we write this, the Bennetts have still not been served with the lawsuit, nor do they have a lawyer. Since Liberty Counsel has drafted the Library Board’s new book policy and knows this situation – and often take these kinds of cases pro-bono – we have reached out to them and are awaiting their reply.
Not surprisingly, Lesley repeats the ridiculous leftist talking point that the First Amendment prevents a local Library Board from determining which books it may have in its public library (e.g., books on baseball versus books on field hockey). The decision of the radicals on the staff is final according to Lesley.
But she ignores the fact that the First Amendment clearly states that people have the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” She doesn’t want any complaints from the public.
Nothing that the Bennetts did is criminal or even actionable. What they did is what people on the Right and Left do every day across America. They complained about their government. This lawsuit is about silencing conservatives and instilling fear.
It’s also pertinent to point out what the Bennetts (or any of the other conservative citizens) didn’t do to Lesley. They didn’t “dox” her. They didn’t publish her personal address or phone number. They were civil. But leftists and LGBT activists often do these things to conservatives.
This is basically “lawfare” – term for illegitimately using expensive legal proceedings as a weapon to bankrupt, imprison, or destroy an opponent. That has become a common tool of the Left in recent years against conservatives.
In our opinion, the outrageous anti-American nature of this lawsuit, and the fact that it’s obviously being supported by the LGBT movement, will make it a very high-profile case. Terri Lesley and her lawyers want to change America so that any citizen who vigorously complains about a public official’s actions can be sued for damages. We will keep you informed.
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