Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson said Friday, Sept. 29 that he “barely knows” mayoral candidate Terry Baker and doesn’t know what motivated Baker to issue a statement on his Facebook page accusing Gibson and Kenly Police Officer Rayne Biggs of having an affair.
Gibson and Biggs filed a complaint Monday, Sept. 25, against Baker in Johnston County District Court seeking more than $10,000 in damages plus interest and court costs.
Baker said he had no comment. He posted the statement on his Terry Baker for Kenly Mayor Facebook page on Aug. 14, 2017.
On the post, Baker said, “I am pro law enforcement and support honest, law abiding officers, not ones that lie to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and to the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office.
“I also do not support officers lieing (sic) to town officials as well as married police supervisors having sexual relationships with police subordinates.”
“I have no idea why he (Baker) would attack me or Officer Biggs in this way,” said Gibson. “This lawsuit isn’t about money. It’s about restoring one’s reputation. For a political candidate to use a website to make these kind of accusations is sad.”
Gibson said he found out about Baker’s post when he received a call from Biggs, whom he said was very upset. Gibson said his family was offended as well.
“It all comes down to credibility and trust,” said Gibson. “Officer Biggs lives and works in this town and is trying to do her job.”
The lawsuit stated that Baker “acted with actual malice in making the publication because the statements were made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”
Also mentioned in the lawsuit were repeated Facebook posts Baker allegedly sent to Biggs, starting in November 2016, in which he asked her out for dinner dates and wanted to have a romantic relationship. Biggs said she never responded.
The lawsuit stated, “Plaintiff (Biggs) did not respond to Defendant’s (Baker’s) messages. Despite the Plaintiff’s obvious lack of interest in dating the Defendant, Defendant continued to message Plaintiff asking her to call Defendant.”
“I couldn’t believe Baker would be the kind of man to seek out a young officer like Biggs,” said Gibson. “One of the reasons this is so upsetting is because I don’t know what motivated Baker to post the allegation,” said Gibson. “I barely knew Baker when he was on the force.”
Attorney Leslie Jones of Garner represents Gibson and Biggs.
When a person creates a platform from which they have the ability to influence others, it is important to realize that what he says will have an impact on others, whether positively or negatively,” said Jones. “Mr. Baker’s August 14 press release directly accuses Police Chief Gibson of misconduct and lying during an investigation.
“The statement also directly accused Police Chief Gibson and Officer Biggs of having a sexual relationship – another black mark against the professionalism of these two public servants; not to mention a personal attack against their morality.
“As to Officer Biggs directly, this statement could greatly impact her career. She has already bravely entered a male-dominated, potentially dangerous profession. To call into question her professionalism and morality could greatly impact her future and her interactions with the public,” said Jones.
Jones said she took the case because Gibson and Biggs “are hard-working, driven individuals with a passion for helping their neighbors.”
“It is hard to ignore the implications of such a claim, by someone with a public platform within the town of Kenly,” said Jones. “Police conduct is in the forefront of the American political discourse, and now more than ever, it is imperative for people to realize that their actions and their statements have consequences.”
Jones said the next step is to proceed with discovery.
“We want to begin to engage Mr. Baker and his attorney, should he retain one, in productive dialog to resolve this matter,” said Jones.