St. Thomas Elections deputy supervisor, board member file police reports against each other


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ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas-St. John deputy supervisor of Elections and one of the district board of elections members filed police reports against each other Wednesday evening.

Deputy Supervisor Nefrediezha Barbel called the V.I. Police Department just before 5 p.m. Wednesday and filed a report against board member Claudette Georges, who filed a report against Barbel in return.

Neither is facing charges at this time.

Barbel could not be reached for comment by phone on Thursday, but she stated in a Thursday morning email to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes that she would be "out until further notice."

Fawkes has deferred the escalating issues between Barbel and various members of the board to the Joint Board of Elections, which hired Barbel.

"I will be filing an official complaint with the Department of Justice for harassment, workplace violence and bullying, mental anguish and suffering," Barbel wrote in the email.

V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer said that his office had received no such complaint as of Thursday.

Fawkes could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday evening, nor could V.I. Police Department spokeswoman Melody Rames.

Georges told The Daily News that she filed her own report to have on record her own account of her conversation with Barbel and to have on record the account of those who were present with her.

"That's the point. Nothing did happen. She was screaming," Georges said Thursday, characterizing Barbel as the aggressor in the situation.

Georges said she does not know the nature of Barbel's report, though, in her own report, she said that Barbel had become hysterical when Georges insisted that Barbel keep her office door open during a conversation they were having.

Georges said she had approached Barbel asking whether the deputy supervisor had an absentee ballot that Georges said she had given to Barbel in July.

In her email to Fawkes, Barbel said she could not recall Georges giving her an absentee ballot.

During their conversation, Barbel also started to record Georges with her phone, which Georges told Barbel was illegal, Georges told The Daily News.

According to Barbel's email, Georges was harassing Barbel by refusing to leave Barbel's office.

"I was fearful of my safety and life. I stated that she did not threaten me, however she was invading my personal space by refusing to leave my office," Barbel wrote in the email.

Georges was one of four board members to sign a letter asking that Barbel be suspended from her position for 15 days before the board met with Fawkes to determine what Barbel's future within the V.I. Elections System would be.

Board members Alecia Wells, Harry Daniel and Lawrence Boschulte also signed the July letter, which prompted a special meeting the board called Monday. The board decided to submit the issue to the Joint Board, of which Wells is the chairwoman.

St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections Chairman Arturo Watlington, Jr. also has butted heads with Barbel, who accused Watlington of assaulting her last week.

The tension between the deputy supervisor and the board has been escalating in recent months, even before the Aug. 2 primary election, for which the board still is counting ballots.

The primary elections for both districts are required to be certified, per the V.I. Code by 15 days following the election date.

It is unclear how long Barbel intends to be out of the office and whether it will hamper efforts to complete the ballot count in a timely manner.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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