Public safety briefs

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

Dessler lawsuit dismissed, settlement reached

WILLIAMSBURG — An undisclosed settlement has been reached between a former College of William and Mary professor who had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the school, according to court documents and a school official.

David Dessler, a former professor at the college, had filed a lawsuit in district court last December against the college and against Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green, claiming in court documents that his free speech and due process rights had been violated, and that he had been discriminated against due to a disability.

In court documents, Dessler said he had suffered from depression.

That lawsuit, as a result of the settlement, has been dismissed with prejudice, according to court documents, meaning that it can’t be brought up again in court.

Dessler was a government professor at the college for nearly 32 years and had been charged with four counts of harassment by computer in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court. Three of those charges were dropped, according to online court records, with another receiving a deferred disposition until May 23, 2019.

In a statement from spokeswoman Suzanne Seurattan, she said the college admitted no fault in the settlement but said it was time for closure.

“This matter has been long, complex and draining, Seurattan said. “The university has acted appropriately and compassionately from the beginning with Dr. Dessler.”

Seurattan said the settlement “is not to be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of the university,’ and that it denies the claims in the lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a dismissal letter Sept. 28, 2017 about the case saying it did not find any violations of any statutes.

“Taking this matter to trial would have entailed significant emotional costs for our employees as well as financial costs to the university,” Seurattan said. “It was time for closure.”

Woman pleads no contest to child neglect

WILLIAMSBURG — A Williamsburg woman charged with felony child neglect pleaded no contest in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court Monday.

Catherine Veno-Thompson, 65, had been charged after a 2-year old in her care was found to be wandering the street alone, barefoot and with cuts on her fingers on Sept. 16, 2017, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Cathy Black said in court. In a plea agreement announced in court, Veno-Thompson pleaded no contest in exchange for two charges of child neglect to be dropped.

Veno-Thompson, Black said, was found to be intoxicated and beer cans were found on the table in her home. Black said Veno-Thompson told police that another man in the home, Scott Buttera, was watching the kids, but he had passed out.

Buttera pleaded guilty to a felony child abuse charge on March 2, according to online court records, and was sentenced to five years in prison, with four years and three months of that suspended, and 10 years of supervised probation. Buttera also had two charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor dropped, online court records state.

Judge Michael McGinty deferred disposition in the case until May 17, 2019, saying that if Veno-Thompson completes the terms of her probation — which includes staying drug and alcohol free for a year — then the charge will be reduced to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor. That charge carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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