JACKSON — A Carroll County Superior Court Judge recently ruled against an innkeeper who was asking to annul a resolution agreement that she reached with the State Attorney General’s Office regarding alleged violations of the New Hampshire Civil Rights Act.
Meanwhile, the inn where the incident took place has been put up for sale.
Priscilla Protasowicki, 33, of Jackson claimed through her attorney, Allen Lucas of Lucas Law in Wolfeboro, in a motion filed Aug. 5 that the AG’s news release about their agreement was misleading.
According to the release, the agreement resolved allegations that in April 2018, Protasowicki used force in an attempt to remove two guests from the Covered Bridge Riverview Lodge in Jackson based on her belief they should not have been there because of their Islamic religion and perceived national origin.
The agreement was announced in a July 26 news release from the state Attorney General’s Office that outlined a proposed final order approved by Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius on July 25.
Ignatius ruled on the motion to vacate or stay the proposed final order in a one page order on Sept. 6.
“The court finds no bad faith in the press release issued by the Department of Justice,” said Ignatius. The release stated the court’s order “resolved allegations in the complaint. It did not state the defendant agreed with or accepted responsibility for the allegations.”
The judge found there was no “commitment” about what words had to be avoided in the press release. She said the previous order and the press release were consistent.
Protasowicki provided the motion to the Sun. It said: “The Defendant settled her case with the State in an attempt to buy peace and move on from all the negativity that this case has bought upon her, family, and the family business, knowing that she denies the allegations made against her.
“However, rather than file a simple statement that encompassed the nature of the settlement reached, the Plaintiff issued a Release that contained incomplete or misleading facts, which would cause any reasonable person to believe that the Defendant accepted or admitted to liability, which is not the case, and which contradicts the nature of the agreement reached by the parties.
“Therefore, the Defendant believes that the Plaintiff’s conduct is tantamount to bad faith and that this Court should vacate or stay the Proposed Order.”
Lucas wrote that the issue of liability was discussed “at length” during a mediation session that took place from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on July 24.
Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards filed an objection to the motion on Aug. 9. In the objection, Edwards says there’s no basis to rip up the settlement. “The settlement agreement is silent on any admission of liability by defendant,” she said. “So, too, is the press release.”
She said it was accurate to describe the inn guests as victims because Protasowicki pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the criminal case based on the same incident. She said the state didn’t agree not to use specific words. She asked the court to deny Protasowicki’s motion.
According to the agreement announced last month, Protasowicki is permanently prevented from having further contact with the two victims and their families, and from engaging in or threatening physical force or violence, damage to property or trespass on property against any person motivated by race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
A violation of a permanent injunction issued under RSA 354-B constitutes a Class A misdemeanor.
Protasowicki also must pay a monetary penalty of $10,000, $7,500 of which will be suspended for one year on condition of compliance with the permanent injunction. Protasowicki also will have to pay restitution to the two victims.
Named as victims were Mohamed Ghallami and Chahrazade Mounaji of Massachusetts, who booked a room at the lodge with their 8-year-old daughter. They are of Moroccan heritage.
According to court documents, the family had been staying in the area, but Ghallami decided to extend the vacation by booking a night at the lodge. He had planned to return to Massachusetts for work. But because he booked the room, he was told he had to be present at check-in.
The couple went to the lodge but ended up being dissatisfied with the room and asked for a refund.
Protasowicki’s mother offered a voucher, which the couple declined. That’s when they say Protasowicki began talking about Mounaji’s hijab (head scarf) and saying the couple shouldn’t be there. They said Protasowicki began pushing them out the door while stating things like Muslims don’t belong in this country and that Muslims kill children.
In court last year, Protasowicki said that if she were bigoted she wouldn’t have booked the room to the family in the first place.
Recently, “for sale” signs have gone up outside the lodge, which appears to be vacant. According to a posting online by James R. St. Jean Auctioneers of Epping, a foreclosure sale of the property had been scheduled for Aug. 13 at 1 p.m. but was subsequently canceled.
According to jsjauctions.com, the 17-unit motel with in-ground swimming pool, four one-bedroom apartments and a two-bedroom owners quarters has an assessed value of $833,000.
The Sun asked Protasowicki about her future plans. She declined to comment on that but stressed that she is not a bigot. “We just wanted to clarify that I did not admit guilt and that I never used racial slurs towards any guest nor did I ever say they were not welcome here,” said Protasowicki in an email Wednesday.