Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Judge dismisses case against fired fireman accused of stalking former lover


Alamance County chief district court judge Brad Allen, Sr. on Monday denied a Burlington woman’s request for a domestic violence protective order against a former paramour and former Graham fireman who she had claimed stalked and harassed her and her family after she tried to end their extramarital affair on October 12, 2022.

Courtney Wrenn of Burlington had requested a one-year domestic violence protective order (also called a DVPO or 50B order) against Robert (“Rob”) Patterson, II. Wrenn had twice filed a complaint for the DVPO against Patterson earlier this year. She voluntarily dismissed the first one at a hearing on May 8, after Patterson’s attorney, Kelly Fairman, repeatedly objected to testimony given by the plaintiff’s husband, Jacob Wrenn.

Rob Patterson during a “name clearing” hearing held earlier this year.

In her subsequent complaint for a DVPO, Courtney Wrenn alleged in a seven-page narrative included in the court file that Patterson had attempted to blackmail her into continuing the affair after she broke it off.

At the conclusion of a nearly three-hour hearing Monday afternoon, Allen dismissed the case, citing among his extended findings of fact that Wrenn had contacted Patterson approximately 54 times in the seven days between October 12 and October 19, 2022 – after the ostensible end of the affair.

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“From the circumstantial evidence, the court does not believe the relationship had ended, or that she wanted it to end, and the majority [of the calls] were incoming to his [Patterson’s] phone, from her work, Google Voice, her personal phone,” Allen said in announcing that he was denying the DVPO and dismissing the case.

Allen heard testimony from Courtney Wrenn; her husband, Jacob Wrenn; Patterson; and another witness for the defendant, Daniel Alvis, co-owner of 333 Sports Bar, a bar along Corporation Parkway, across from the Integrity Church, where Courtney Wrenn had been active and where her father-in-law is pastor, which both Jacob Wrenn and Patterson testified that they had frequented.

At the close of testimony and closing arguments, Allen directed the courtroom clerk to enter the following findings of fact:

· That the plaintiff, Wrenn, was working at a dental practice in Graham [identified during testimony as Rose Family Dentistry on Marshall Street];

· That the defendant was a patient at that office and the parties started having an emotional and physical affair with each other, which is against the dental office policy;

· That when her boss was told, Wrenn was fired October 18, 2022;

· She [Courtney Wrenn] also testified that, on October 12, she went over to Patterson’s house to break up with him;

· That someone sent a message at 9:55 p.m. on October 12, 2022 in reference to the plaintiff being at the defendant’s house;

· That Courtney Wrenn and Patterson texted back and forth trying to figure out who sent the text;

· That the text and circumstantial evidence of the text corroborates the defendant’s claim that they had sexual relations;

· That the defendant’s evidence contradicts [Wrenn’s claim] that Patterson sent texts to her husband and her father-in-law’s church, Integrity, located at the former BMOC outlets;
· That the plaintiff’s husband would frequent a bar called 333 after work;

· The bar is owned by Alvis, who knows both the husband and the defendant, and that he and the defendant were middle school and high school classmates;

· That the defendant frequents his friends’ bar is not stalking or harassment, even though the church is across the street;

· That [Courtney Wrenn and Patterson] texted each other about the times when Jacob Wrenn was at the bar;

· That the plaintiff, Courtney Wrenn, called her husband and called the defendant, Patterson, back and “tells him it would be a good time for him to get arrested for driving while intoxicated”;

· That the parties had discussed the potential for Jacob Wrenn getting a DWI, “which may lead to her being able to leave him”;

· The court finds this could be considered a “joint plan” between the plaintiff and defendant;
· That the plaintiff is going under the theory of “substantial emotional distress” as her reason why the DVPO should be granted;

· However, a letter dated May 14, 2022 and introduced by the defendant, that the plaintiff wrote and stated to the women’s group at her church that “she had a previous affair that led to a murder-suicide”;

· That she also admitted that “Satan attacked her more than she thought possible, and it was an attack on herself and her family”;

· She also indicated to her father-in-law and to the women’s group at church that she was not going to go into details, but that she also would like to try to be as transparent as possible;

· That Wrenn also admitted “to not being in a great place emotionally or mentally at that time”;

· That on October 12, 2022, she made nine calls to the defendant;

· That there were alleged threats from the defendant that he had photos or text messages on his phone that he claimed he would “unload”;

· However, there was no evidence that he had actually followed through with those alleged threats;

· That there is circumstantial evidence that Patterson placed signs, reading “Hugs and Kisses” and “Love You More” in her neighborhood;

· That “the emotional distress is by her own doing, and some, by the defendant’s doing.”
Allen ruled that Courtney Wrenn had failed to meet her burden of proof, adding, “This case is dismissed.”

Wrenn was represented at trial by attorney Rob Jennings of Mebane; Patterson was represented by attorney Kelly Fairman of Graham.

Patterson was terminated from the Graham fire department on May 17, after more than 28 years of employment with the city of Graham.

Documents that Graham city manager Megan Garner provided last month in response to a public records request by The Alamance News stated that, in December 2022, Patterson had been placed on a yearlong probation as a result of “complaints made to the city that you were stalking and harassing private citizens.

The final notice of his termination, which the city manager also provided to the newspaper, listed Patterson’s alleged actions in the case involving Wrenn among the reasons for his subsequent termination.

Patterson contended during a “name-clearing hearing” that the city of Graham provided him last month that he had been fired in retaliation for whistleblower complaints he had filed against two superior officers in the fire department; and that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing during two internal investigations.

The name-clearing hearing did not change the status of his employment with the city, Patterson and Graham human resources director Lorri Andrews confirmed for the newspaper at the time.

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