WATERVILLE — A judge Tuesday approved a request by Falah Waheeb for a protection from harassment order against his neighbor and city Planning Board member Cathy Weeks, following testimony that she called her Iraqi neighbors “radical Muslims” and tried to get them to leave their “white” neighborhood.

Judge Charles Dow made the decision after hearing arguments and testimony from both sides Monday and Tuesday in Waterville District Court, ruling that Weeks is prohibited from threatening or having any contact with the man and must pay his attorney’s fees.

Waheeb’s attorney, James LaLiberty, said Weeks harassed and intimidated Waheeb and his family, claimed they are radical Muslims, tried to prevent them from moving next door, and told a neighbor that Muslims are surrounding the city and will kill people.

Cathy Weeks, center, leaves Waterville District Court on Monday with her lawyer, Kevin Sullivan, right, and her husband, Jon Weeks, left. A judge Tuesday approved a request by Falah Waheeb for a protection from harassment order against Weeks. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel file

LaLiberty said his client needed protection from harassment from Weeks, of Mount Pleasant Street.

“Without this protection order, this despicable behavior is going to continue,” he said.

Weeks’ lawyer, Kevin Sullivan, argued that her major complaint is with a company that cut tree branches that hung over into Waheeb’s property and that the requirements for proving harassment, including the intent to cause fear or the causing of fear, did not exist in the case.

Waheeb, 54, and his wife, Rasmiya Fezaa, 56, had a temporary protection from harassment order against Weeks that expired at the end of the day Tuesday. They claimed in their Aug. 20 filing that Weeks told Waheeb everyone in their all-white neighborhood hates them, they don’t belong there and should go back to the country from which they came, and that Weeks videotapes and photographs them and their family members and friends as they come and go, according to the request.

Weeks, 65, denied those claims and said she did not understand why the protection order was requested. She said she just wanted to get along and live in peace with her neighbor. She also denied videotaping the family several times and claims she did so only once.

But a seller’s agent for the real estate agent who sold the house to Waheeb in 2019 testified Monday that Weeks tried to convince the agent not to sell it to him because he was Muslim. A neighbor of Weeks testified Weeks told her that Muslims were moving to Waterville and Waheeb  moved to the outskirts because Muslims try to surround the city and will kill people. Weeks on Monday denied those claims.

LaLiberty on Tuesday called Waterville resident Samantha Burdick, also a Planning Board member, to the stand. Burdick was a member of the city’s Charter Commission, which Weeks also served on until the panel’s work was completed several weeks ago. Burdick and Weeks served together on a four-member subcommittee of the commission.

LaLiberty, who was co-chairman of the commission, asked Burdick if she recalled attending a commission subcommittee meeting with Weeks in January at another member’s house and being in the kitchen after that meeting. Burdick said she did remember that. LaLiberty asked if she recalled what Weeks said at the time.

“Yes, as we were leaving, she mentioned something to the effect of, ‘At least you guys don’t have the same problems with your neighbors that we have with ours,'” Burdick said.

LaLiberty asked Burdick what Weeks said when a subcommittee member asked Weeks what her problem was with her neighbors.

“She mentioned that the problem she had with her neighbors was that they were Muslim,” Burdick replied.

Weeks on Monday denied she said that.

‘YOU RUINED MY TREES’

One focus of testimony both Monday and Tuesday was a videotape Weeks took of her and Waheeb talking one day about work Grass Eaters Lawn Care & Maintenance was doing on Waheeb’s property. Sullivan played the audio of the two talking. Weeks said she didn’t want anything to do with Waheeb and asked if he understood that. Waheeb said his religion requires that, despite what she is doing, he love her as a neighbor — that he loves all his neighbors.

“There are no neighbors in this neighborhood for you,” Weeks is heard saying in the videotape, adding that she just wanted him to “stay over there and leave all of us alone.”

“You ruined my trees and if I had been here the police would have been here immediately,” she is heard saying.

Cathy Weeks

Waheeb had hired Grass Eaters owner Bruce Salsbury to cut branches of Weeks’ trees that hung more than 10 feet over Waheeb’s swimming pool. Salsbury said he heard Weeks tell Waheeb to go back to his country and that he was not wanted here.

Sullivan called Waterville police officer Steve Brame to the stand Tuesday. Brame, who was subpoenaed in the case, had been to the Mount Pleasant neighborhood a few times. On one of those occasions, Brame said he saw work Grass Eaters did on the tree branches from Weeks’ tree and thought it looked unprofessional, but the company said they’d fix it.

Sullivan asked Brame if he ever heard Weeks say anything derogatory about Waheeb, to which Brame said he did not. Brame said Weeks said she was scared of Waheeb and had a city councilor, Rick Foss, at her house to support her because she was afraid. LaLiberty asked Brame if he ever found any wrongdoing by Grass Eaters, to which Brame said he did not. He said he told Grass Eaters that if they did damage property, however, that they would have to make it right or there could be a criminal mischief case.

Mark Andre, a friend of Weeks, testified he has known her two years, she had run for City Council, and they worked together on an effort to challenge ballots. He was talking about their challenge to 77 Colby College students’ voter registrations in Waterville.

“I found her to be a person of integrity and high moral character,” Andre said of Weeks.

Andre acknowledged he had no knowledge of any interactions between Waheeb and Weeks and didn’t know any details of the case until he read two articles in the newspaper about it. He said he visited Waheeb and wanted to mediate the situation between him and Weeks but didn’t want to violate the temporary protection order. He said he finally spoke with Weeks about the case.

“I found a person that was very remorseful that things had gotten to the point that they were,” Andre said.

‘TOXIC LANGUAGE’

Waheeb and his wife and five children moved to the U.S. in 2015 after he had worked for the U.S. military and helped the U.S. government in Iraq, but the militia bombed and destroyed his house and shot him in the head. They have three boys in Waterville schools and two daughters in college, as well as three more daughters still in Iraq.

At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Dow reiterated that he had granted Sullivan’s motion Monday to remove Fezaa from the protection from harassment request because she did not attend Monday’s hearing. Waheeb had explained that she is disabled, in a wheelchair and has a medical issue that prevented her from coming.

LaLiberty said in closing that it was clear that three or more incidents had occurred in which Weeks intended to cause fear, or did so. She placed a bag of trash on Waheeb’s driveway for no reason, videotaped the family more or less constantly from the time they moved to the house in 2019, and was intimidating and confrontational.

Weeks also tried to impede the sale of the house to Waheeb in the first place, attempted to put enough fear into the family to cause them to move out of the neighborhood, and made statements including that they didn’t belong in the neighborhood and that they should go back to the country they came from, according to LaLiberty.

“She didn’t want them in the neighborhood,” LaLiberty said, adding the language she used about the family’s being Muslim was “just incredibly toxic, toxic language.”

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