Former fireman’s trial delayed again

The trial for former Graham fireman Rob Patterson has been delayed again, after being pushed almost to the close of business on Monday to hear other, unrelated cases in Alamance County domestic court.

Alamance County district court judge Larry Brown, Jr. noted at the beginning of Monday’s proceedings that the case had been scheduled on the docket several other occasions, announcing, “I want to get this matter settled today.”

However, when the case was called for trial at 4:20 pm. Monday, Patterson’s attorney, Kelly Fairman, told Brown she didn’t think 40 minutes would be sufficient to hear the evidence in the case.

Brown agreed, saying, “I am not inclined to start a case we are not able to finish…this case is going to need an extended period of time.” The next date for a trial has been set for Monday, August 28.

Fairman also informed the judge that she had sent requests for discovery to the plaintiff’s attorney, Rob Jennings of Mebane, which were due by July 5. Jennings had not provided discovery materials to the defense until after 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 28, Fairman said in court Monday afternoon.

Patterson had worked for the city of Graham, most recently in the fire department, for 28 years until he was accused of stalking and harassment by a married woman, Courtney Wrenn of Burlington, with whom he’d had an affair from October 2021 until October 2022, according to Wrenn’s complaint.

Wrenn is seeking a one-year domestic violence protective order against Patterson. The attorneys for Wrenn and Patterson had previously agreed on June 5 to continue the case until Monday, August 7.

Patterson was provided a name clearing hearing by the city of Graham last month – an opportunity for him to tell his side of the story but which had no bearing on his May 17, 2023 termination by the Graham fire department. The date of Patterson’s termination was disclosed in documents that the city of Graham furnished in response to a public records request by The Alamance News.

Meanwhile, the State Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant on the city of Graham on June 19 to inspect Patterson’s personnel file, according to a copy of the warrant subsequently filed with Alamance County’s clerk of superior court.

The warrant stated that major Curtis Morris of the Alamance County sheriff’s department had filed a request with the SBI on May 25 to investigate Patterson, and specifically allegations that he “was staking and sending harassing communications to Courtney Wrenn and her husband Jacob Wrenn.”

The SBI seized an exact duplicate of the following items, “if available,” from Patterson’s personnel file, according to the search warrant:

• All stored electronic communications, tasks lists, notes, and other files, to include photographs and folders from any accounts controlled by Patterson during his employment with the city of Graham;

• Documents, data, media files, physical files, or other files stored in the “home directory,” network, or backup files;

• All documents, audio and video recordings, and photographs pertaining to the investigation of Patterson.

[Story continues below special subscription offer.]

More local education, government, and court news than is available anywhere else.  Subscribe now so you won’t miss a single story.  You’ll need to subscribe to have unlimited access to this and all other local news stories.

Patterson, for his part, contended at the name-clearing hearing that an investigation by the city had revealed that he had engaged in no misconduct. He also alleged that he had been targeted by his superiors in the fire department for having previously participated in filing “whistleblower complaints” against two superior officers.

Patterson subsequently told The Alamance News Monday, “These unresolved allegations have been and continue to be devastating and mentally exhausting. It’s hard to even go out in my hometown [of Graham] at this point knowing what’s been said about me. I’m ready to see justice served and resolution of these matters.”

This marks the second time this year that Wrenn has filed a complaint for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) against Patterson. She voluntarily dismissed the first one, which she had filed on March 27, at a May 8 hearing after Fairman repeatedly objected to testimony given by Jacob Wrenn, the plaintiff’s husband. Courtney Wrenn subsequently filed a new complaint for a DVPO, also called a 50-B.

Unlike her first complaint, Courtney Wrenn alleges in her re-filed complaint that Patterson attempted to blackmail her into continuing the affair after she broke it off in 2022.

“[Patterson] told me he would ‘unload’ his phone and that everyone would know what we had been doing,” Wrenn wrote in a lengthy narrative she included with her second complaint.
“I knew, and [Patterson] knew I knew, the extent to which he could humiliate me,” Wrenn wrote in the narrative with her second complaint for a DVPO. “From the summer of 2022 into October of that year, my mental health worsened to the point where I felt physically sick.

I felt dark, trapped, hopeless, and completely alone. At the same time, I felt like I deserved it because of what I had done.” Courtney Wrenn states in her written narrative that she told her husband about the affair in October 2022, based on the plaintiff’s court filings.

That’s when Patterson allegedly sent multiple texts, from multiple numbers, to Jacob Wrenn, alluding to his wife’s affair.

According to Wrenn’s second complaint for the domestic violence protective order, earlier in her relationship with the fireman, Patterson had placed signs outside her office – and later along the road leading to her home – which read, “Hugs,” “Kisses,” and “I Love You More.”

Those signs began reappearing after she ended the affair, Wrenn asserted in the narrative accompanying her second complaint. “[Patterson] had apparently saved these signs for close to a year, and he had placed them so that both I and my husband would see them on our way to church that morning.”

Courtney Wrenn is seeking a DVPO that would be good for one year.