A Cape May City councilman-elect has obtained a court injunction to stop four women from posting about him online, after allegations he abused one of them in 2015 became the subject of online debate surrounding a contentious election.
The injunction, which also bars them from defaming or harassing him via social media or “published media,” is just the latest volley in a legal battle between Christopher M. Bezaire, 42, and his ex-girlfriends that involves a slew of restraining orders and him being charged with violating one.
Claims that Bezaire punched a former girlfriend, Amanda Francis, in 2015 came out in October when she posted about it publicly on Facebook — not naming him, but sharing photos of them together, along with one showing her with a black eye. That same photo and text messages purported to be sent by Bezaire, made it onto a mailer that was sent to voters before the Nov. 3 election, though Francis denies any involvement.
Bezaire — who won the election for a seat on the non-partisan city council after vying against two other candidates — said he “categorically denies any abuse” and the assault charge she filed against him was dismissed by the state.
After the election, the four women posted disparaging comments about Bezaire on Facebook, according to the complaint in court. It prompted him to obtain temporary restraining orders against Francis, 44, and a more recent ex, Brianna Bodkin, 24, alleging cyber harassment.
Bodkin got a restraining order against Bezaire last week alleging ongoing harassment.
Bezaire is also facing a municipal charge for violating the restraining order with Francis, according to court documents and an interview Francis gave to NJ Advance Media before the injunction. He denies the charge.
A Facebook page called “Impeach Chris Bezaire” has posted court documents related to the allegations as well as screenshots of text messages supposedly from Bezaire.
Francis said she thinks public officials should call on Bezaire to step down — even before he’s sworn in in January. So far, no one has done so publicly.
“Public officials shouldn’t bully women,” said Meghan J. McCormick Hoerner, an attorney representing Francis and Bodkin in regards to the restraining orders. “From my perspective this is just another effort to bully them.”
Bezaire, who is president of the Cape May County Association of Realtors, believes that given the timing and other factors, this is a politically-motivated campaign to harm him.
“This has certainly been a trying and emotionally exhausting time for me and my family, however my resolve is strong and I will continue to focus on serving the citizens of Cape May come January and doing the best I can for the city,” he said in an email.
Court records show that in 2015, he was charged six times with violating a restraining order, four times for harassment and once for property damage, but all the cases were disposed of in family court.
In an interview Nov. 16 — before the injunction — Francis told NJ Advance