Greg Heffernan, Buxton’s solid waste director, says he fears he will be fired over the incident involving Selectboard Chairwoman Jean Harmon. Robert Lowell/American Journal

BUXTON — The next step in the case of a Buxton selectwoman accused of assaulting a town employee was unclear following a mistrial last week.

Chairwoman Jean Harmon was charged with assaulting Greg Heffernan, the town’s solid waste director, on town property near the Buxton police station on Oct. 3, 2018. The case went to trial on July 25 in York County Superior Court in Alfred.

A mistrial was declared after a jury deliberated for three hours and could not reach a verdict.

Heffernan on Tuesday gave a copy of the police surveillance video of the incident to the American Journal. In an interview, he called Harmon “the town bully.” Emphasizing that he did not file charges, he said the case has ruined his reputation and he fears it will cost him his job.

The video he supplied shows a woman, who Heffernan said is Harmon, slapping him and then touching his hip area. Heffernan said in a written statement that after slapping him, Harmon ushered him to the selectmen’s office for further discussion.

Jean Harmon

Harmon did not respond to voice messages left Tuesday and Wednesday on her cell phone. Selectman Chad Poitras said Wednesday that Harmon has paid for her own legal representation in the case.

Heffernan said the incident with Harmon stemmed from a disagreement about a policy issue. He said he had tried unsuccessfully to resolve differences with Harmon for weeks, and finally sent a letter to all selectmen, following town procedure, about “contractor permit problems.”

“On Wednesday, Oct. 3, at around noon, I was walking on the path at the side of the Town Hall building when Jean approached me angrily clutching the letter I had written. She began yelling at me that ‘you threw me under the bus,'” he said in his written statement.

“She hit me on the eardrum,” he said Tuesday.

The jury made several requests to the judge for assistance during their deliberations, the Journal Tribune reported. Those requests included a review of the surveillance footage of the Oct. 3 incident because it had been difficult to view as initially projected.

Disposition of the case apparently rests with the York County district attorney. Shiela Nevells, assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, did not respond to a request for information before the American Journal’s print deadline Wednesday.

The Journal Tribune reported last week that “‘Harmon said when she hit Heffernan on Oct. 3, it was a playful ‘Gibbs slap,’ similar to several she had given him over the years.”‘

“It’s not a Gibbs slap,” Heffernan retorted Tuesday. “She’s the town bully.”

A so-called Gibbs slap is a good-natured slap on the back of a head for a minor offense. The name originates from a character named Gibbs in the “NCIS” TV series.

After the alleged incident, Heffernan requested the surveillance video from the Buxton Police Department and paid $10 for it. Buxton police then asked the Saco Police Department to investigate the matter.

Harmon was charged with assault in a summons issued on Nov. 8, 2018, by Sgt. Christopher Hardiman of the Saco Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

After initially consulting a lawyer, Heffernan did not retain one. He said he is not interested in filing a civil lawsuit against the town.

But the Hollis resident said the matter has made him “notorious” and his life “has been miserable.”

He said he has been publicly accosted while shopping, when someone told him he’s “the a–hole that’s trying to extort $50,000 of my tax dollars.”

Another time, Heffernan said, he was told “a real man wouldn’t have said anything about a woman touching him.”

These and other public comments have driven him to do his shopping in Waterboro, he said.

Heffernan said Harmon was one of the selectmen who hired him in 2003. Now, he believes selectmen will find a way to fire him.

He said, however, that he does have supporters in Buxton. One is circulating decals that say “Dump Guys Matter/Support Employee Rights.”

A supporter of Greg Heffernen has produced this decal.

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