Harassment charges alleged in Roselle

ROSELLE, NJ — Roselle Mayor Christine Dansereau has filed a harassment complaint against New Jersey Assemblyman Jamel Holley, a former mayor of the borough, according to the report obtained by LocalSource.

The report was filed by Dansereau on Sept. 13 at the Roselle Police Department.
In the police report, Dansereau states that for the “last year and a half,” she has been receiving phone calls, text messages and emails from Holley that have been “harassing and intimidating in nature,” according to the report.

According to the report, Dansereau accused Holley of calling her expletives during their conversations, stating that she believes that the interactions were intended to “wear me down and make me leave” her post as mayor. “Ms. Dansereau advised that many local and state politicians are aware of this strained relationship between her and Mr. Holley,” reads the report. “She further stated, ‘a few months ago,’ an internal mediation was organized, and stated during mediation between her and Mr. Holley, Mr. Holley was observed speaking irate and verbally belittling her.” The report also stated, “Ms. Dansereau has confirmed that the behavior has continued.”

Dansereau told LocalSource in an email that she was unable to discuss the matter at this time.

Dansereau succeeded Holley as Roselle’s mayor after Holley resigned his post to represent the 20th District in the State Assembly.

On the day the report was filed, according to the complaint, Dansereau told police officers that she received a phone call from Holley at borough hall, in which he was screaming and using “abusive language.” According to Dansereau, the phone call from Holley was in response to an email she had sent to him a day earlier, requesting that Holley no longer contact her directly by phone due to his “past behavior.” The report reads, “After advice and support from political cohorts, Ms. Dansereau stated she cannot keep this among herself and family anymore, and needs to report Mr. Holley’s harassing behavior to the Roselle Police Department.”

According to the report, a search for the phone number allegedly used by Holley comes from a landline in Irvington.

Aside from an attachment to the report showing that several calls were made to Dansereau from the Irvington number, the report states that Dansereau was unable to disclose any voicemails, voice conversations, texts, or further emails from Holley regarding the incidents.

LocalSource has obtained a copy of the email that Dansereau sent to Holley on Sept. 12. “After much time, deliberation and patience, I have reached a point of having to request that you do not communicate with me by telephone any longer,” Dansereau wrote in the email. “Today was absolutely the last time I will accept or tolerate another of your harassing and abusive phone calls. You believe it is acceptable to curse and yell and me and to tell me I shouldn’t talk to our Borough professionals. You believe it is acceptable to undermine my position as mayor and to dictate to me what I can and cannot do. I don’t know who you think you are, but I will not be treated abusively by you any longer.

Others have reached the same point with you as well. The only form of communication I will engage in with you in the future is email. And only if it is an appropriate exchange. Please abide by my request.”

Holley, who ran on the same Democratic ticket as Dansereau just last year, told LocalSource in a phone call that Dansereau’s claims are unfounded. “The one thing about this self-serving complaint is that it doesn’t give any type of proof or documentation,” said Holley. “There are no emails or texts attached.”

Holley said that if Dansereau does have any emails from him, they are all strictly business. “There’s no proof,’ said Holley. “The only email she provided is the one she emailed to me.”

According to Holley, the harassment complaint is Dansereau’s attempt to discredit him. “This is all about trying to silence me and ruin my reputation,” Holley maintains. “I will not be silenced. I will always support Roselle.”

Holley claims that much of the friction is due to the recent approval of the Mind and Body Complex, a $59 million project, to be repaid by the borough over a period of 30 years, that will be located on five acres at the corner of Chandler and Harrison avenues in Roselle. The 100,000-square-foot complex, which will include a community center, an Early Childhood center, and a fitness center and pool, is the brainchild of Holley, and he has championed its construction as a boon for the borough. Detractors of the project, however, have questioned its cost to taxpayers. The borough will be setting aside $500,000 per year for three years to pay for the project.

Holley claims that Dansereau has been causing political in-fighting since she took office in 2015. “When she became mayor, the fighting began,” Holley said. “She ran certain candidates for no apparent reason. The council president and councilman-at-large have been great there. They have Roselle’s best interests at heart, and she’s fighting with them.”

The councilman-at-large Holley is referring to Roselle councilman Reginald Atkins, who told LocalSource that he himself filed a harassment complaint against Dansereau on Sept. 15, just two days after Dansereau filed her report against Holley. “I think it’s very interesting that a harassment charge was filed by Mayor Dansereau, when there was a charge filed against her,” Atkins told LocalSource in a phone call.

LocalSource has obtained a copy of this report, in which Atkins claims that “most conversations between the two usually end with Ms. Dansereau yelling at him either in public or on the telephone.”

Atkins, who is a pastor of a church, also accuses Dansereau of using her position as mayor to interfere with his church “by using code enforcement.” He further states in the report that Dansereau’s opposition to the Mind and Body Complex has caused further friction, and that Dansereau has attacked him both through email and text.

According to Atkins, Dansereau texted him ‘out of nowhere,’ claiming that she had a threatening tone. “She wrote, ‘You’re going to get it double,’” said Atkins, who claims that he told Dansereau through text that her texts were making him feel uncomfortable. Atkins claims that the texts were about the Mind and Body Complex.

Atkins asserts that once Dansereau took office, things changed. “She was no longer for the things that she supported,” said Atkins of Dansereau, who served as a borough councilwoman before being sworn in as mayor. “She supported the Mind and Body Complex. She even named it. Now she no longer supports it and it’s been a point of contention.”

The borough’s platform, said Atkins, was that a new school and library was needed, and he does not understand when this changed for the mayor. “I have no clue,” he said.

Atkins said that the political infighting in the borough has gotten out of control. “Here in town it hasn’t been nice,” Atkins said.

According to Atkins, his colleagues on the council have allegedly had their cars keyed and vandalized.

Just months ago, Dansereau’s home was vandalized when several large rocks were thrown through a bay window and front door of her home.

Atkins claims that Dansereau allegedly texted him on his personal phone. “This is so bizarre to me,” he said. “It’s really sad, to be honest with you. I think when people get into office, they say things but they don’t necessarily mean them.”
Atkins said that the police department has the emails that Dansereau sent to him. “That’s not how I expect my mayor, the person I ran with, to conduct herself.”

According to Dansereau, however, the harassment complaint filed against her by Atkins was rendered unfounded.

As of press time, the Roselle Police Department had not responded to LocalSource’s request for confirmation of Dansereau’s statement.