Things began going badly for Andrew Lee from the instant Judge Kelly Bigley questioned his assertion that he needed protection from Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Rashall Brackney because she was enraged that he had broken off a sexual relationship.
“Did you ever have sex,” asked Bigley.
|COMMANDER RASHALL BRACKNEY
“No,” admitted Lee.
“Then you have no standing,” said Bigley, though she still allowed Lee about two hours to try to establish the existence of a romantic relationship that could serve as grounds for filing his May 8 Protection From Abuse complaint.
It didn’t work.
When ruling that the North Side businessman’s complaint be expunged from Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Rashall Brackney’s record, Allegheny County Family Court Judge Kelly Bigley called the filing “offensive.”
Instead of Lee painting a picture of a vengeful Brackney scorned, what emerged from Bigley’s courtroom, May 17, was a picture of Lee pursuing an infatuation, and of a PFA that may have been filed only to keep her from testifying at a zoning board hearing about Lee’s business operations.
Bigley was visibly upset with Lee.
“There is not one scintilla of evidence of a relationship. At best, this was a flirtation, a chase. This isn’t what PFAs are for,” Bigley told Lee, “I think this was absolutely about the zoning hearing.”
While Brackney dabbed at tears of joy at the ruling, Bigley told her attorney Tina O. Miller she would be more than willing to grant a hearing to determine whether Lee filed the PFA “in bad faith.”
Miller explained there is a section in the PFA law designed to prevent frivolous filings by domestic partners involved in acrimonious disputes or separations.
“The section allows for the recovery of costs,” said Miller. “The law is designed to protect people from domestic abuse. It’s unbelievable that someone would abuse the system like this.”
Andrew Lee filed the complaint just days before a May 10 zoning hearing on whether his Executive Cigars establishment would be allowed to remain open. Brackney had been subpoenaed to testify at the hearing.
Pittsburgh Council President Darlene Harris, business owner and former Councilwoman Barbara Burns and North Side Safety Council President David Stacy all agreed that Lee filed the complaint because of the zoning dispute.
“It’s an abuse of the system, of a woman and of the law,” said Harris.
Lee claimed the two exchanged telephone “booty calls,” and kissed on multiple occasions. Under questioning from Miller, however, he admitted they had never been to each other’s homes, he had never taken her to dinner, didn’t know her birthday, her church and never met any of her family.
Brackney said they had never kissed or even touched beyond a handshake, and all phone calls between them were business-related. In fact, phone and police database records indicated that one 4 a.m. “booty call” coincided with Lee being pulled over by police.
Lee has not returned calls for comment, but said, “no problem” to a potential hearing on his filing being in bad faith.
Lee, however, may have another problem. A few hours after the hearing, police Chief Nate Harper issued a brief statement saying Lee’s PFA filing was “clearly an abuse of the Judicial System” and that “he will meet with District Attorney Stephen Zappala to discuss if this injustice warrants criminal charges being filed against Mr. Andrew Lee.”
(Send comments to email@example.com.)