Love triangle at Springfield Police Department leads to new restraining order

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The ex-girlfriend of former Springfield Police Detective Steven Vigneault has filed a restraining order against him. The restraining order complaint was issued one day after Vigneault filed a civil lawsuit against the Springfield Police Commissioner and others.

The ex-girlfriend is Springfield Police Officer Gail Gethins. Vigneault’s lawyer alleges she filed the restraining order for “improper purposes to aid the Springfield Police Department.”

The 22News I-Team went to Palmer District Court on Friday to see the restraining order. Officer Gethins filed it on January 25th, one day after Vigneault filed a civil lawsuit. There is a motion hearing scheduled for Monday on the restraining order. For the time being, Vigneault must remain 100 yards away from Gethins and stay away from the Springfield Police Department.

The complaint states that Gethins and Vigneault broke up in September, but he hasn’t left her alone since. Gethins said Vigneault has gone to her house and refused to leave, followed her to her gym and sent her an excessive number of text messages.

Gethins said she previously filed a report with the East Longmeadow Police Department, who pulled Vigneault over and served him with a trespass order. On January 20th, Vigneault sent her flowers with a long note. She is seeking an abuse prevention order. At no time does she claim that Vigneault ever physically abused her.

Vigneault’s attorney Shawn Allyn told the I-Team, “We empathize with Officer Gethins. She is in fear of her job, not Mr. Vigneault. She waited until the day after a civil action was filed, making no claim of threats or violence to her. She truly is a victim of abuse, but the Springfield Police Department and Officer Gregg Bigda, are not my client.”

In Vigneault’s whistleblower lawsuit, he claims that in March of 2016, Officer Bigda had threatened both himself and Officer Gethins while carrying a gun. Bigda and Gethins had previously dated, but the relationship was over for more than a year. Around midnight on that March night, the lawsuit claims that Bigda forced his way into Gethins home and assaulted both Vigneault and Gethins.

After a struggle, Bigda left, but returned later that night. The lawsuit alleged Bigda threatened to kill Gethins and Vigneault. Gethins had received a protective order against Bigda. Days later, the lawsuit claims that Bigda called Gethins and said, “Hey whore! Nice to meet ya, I’ll take care of all you people…in the future.” Vigneault said that Bigda told him, “I will get you transferred out of the narcotics unit and ruin your career.”

In the lawsuit, obtained by 22News, Vigneault said he was forced to resign under false pretenses. He also claims he watched Officer Bigda and others drink alcohol on the job at the police station, claiming Bigda was often drunk on duty while carrying his gun. Then was reprimanded when he brought those allegations to supervisors.

On the February night, where Bigda was caught on camera at the Palmer holding cell threatening teenagers, Vigneault claims Bigda was drinking rum throughout the night. The threats caught on camera included Bigda saying he would “plant a kilo of coke” on a juvenile and “put him away for 15 years” and crush their skulls with a “bloody boot.” Several drug cases have been dismissed due to that video.

A Wilbraham Police Officer’s report stated that one of the juveniles was kicked in the face during the pursuit. The report did not state which officer attacked the juvenile.

After an internal affairs investigation, in August of 2016, Vigneault claims that Commissioner John Barbieri told Union President Joseph Gentile to tell Vigneault to resign or be fired. Gentile had told Vigneault that the Wilbraham Police Officer who filed the report was going to testify at a hearing that Vigneault kicked the juvenile in the face. Fearing a loss of his pension, Vigneault resigned. The lawsuit claims that at no time was the Wilbraham Police Officer able to identify who kicked the juvenile.

A hearing on the civil lawsuit is scheduled for February 3rd. Named in the lawsuit were Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri, Police Department Union President Joseph Gentile, Attorney Kevin Coyle, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 364 and Springfield Police Officer Gregg Bigda.

Attorney Allyn has filed an emergency motion to allow the western Massachusetts constables to serve Bigda and Union President Joe Gentile at the police department. Allyn said that Sgt. John Delaney has refused to allow the constable to get past the lobby and serve the defendants.

(Archive Story from January 27, 2017)

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