Madison City Councilman Joe DiLetto is under fire after a controversial email surfaced from 2017 that has led a local shop owner, Theresa Bishop, to file a complaint against him with the Madison Police Department.
On March 25, Bishop submitted a voluntary statement to police alleging DiLetto wishes to cause her “bodily harm” and that he made “threatening statements” directed toward her in an email to City Planner Monica Callahan that was retrieved through an open records request. In that email, DiLetto wrote that he should have “come over the counter with Theresa.”
“I want people to be more aware that this happened and that something like this should never happen in this day and age,” said Bishop of her complaint against DiLetto.
Councilman DiLetto responded to Bishop’s allegations after receiving a copy of the complaint.
“I am sincerely sorry that she feels physically threatened, but I don’t even squish bugs,” said DiLetto. “My intention was never to harm anyone and it would never be my intention.”
Bishop’s complaint stems from the email DiLetto penned last year after a particularly contentious public meeting regarding Madison’s Comprehensive Planning Process. In an email from Joe DiLetto on April 10, 2017, he wrote to Callahan after that public meeting in which she received harsh criticism from several attendees.
“I apologize for not aggressively attacking the barbs thrown at you tonight,” wrote DiLetto. “I have been asked to bite my tongue and not create a situation that might be construed as bias in dealing with the nimbys. However, I should have come over the counter with Theresa [Bishop] this evening and am sorry I did not, especially when the comp plan process was challenged. I need to come up with a way to leverage the public against them and I will.”
Bishop reported to police feeling personally threatened by DiLetto.
“In that email, Joe DiLetto stated that he should have ‘come over the counter with Theresa’ and said he was ‘sorry’ he did not!” wrote Bishop in the complaint. “It is clear to me that he wishes me bodily harm and regrets not causing me bodily harm that evening.”
According to Bishop, DiLetto’s email was penned on the heels of her public comment made at the April 10 City Council meeting. Bishop also claims DiLetto has targeted her on Facebook, posting thinly veiled comments mocking her.
However, DiLetto denies any intention or desire to harm Bishop.
“This was hyperbole,” said DiLetto. “It’s just a figure of speech that I used to tell Monica that I should have stood up for her during that meeting where she had been continually abused verbally. That’s what I meant. If I actually would have ‘come over the counter,’ I’d have a heart attack. I’m 70-years-old.”
But Bishop believes Diletto’s comments were threatening and not an isolated incident.
“Since that City Council meeting on the evening of April 10, 2017, I have noticed a subtle pattern of behavior directed toward me by Joe DiLetto. For a while, I assumed it was just rudeness on his part. Now, after reading the comments he made in the email to Monica Callahan, I am convinced it is much more than rudeness. It appears to be a pattern of bullying directed toward me. I am offended and feel threatened by his references to me and his reference to regretting he did not cause me bodily harm. It is obvious to me that his desire for bodily harm to me did not end that evening.”
Bishop was disappointed that none of the other city council members spoke up for her after the email was read by James Orr in a public meeting on March 12.
“At that meeting, no one in power at the City of Madison came to my defense against Joe DiLetto. Also, Joe DiLetto refused to take responsibility for his comments toward me and showed absolutely no remorse for his bullying of a female citizen. Threatening bodily harm to a female citizen because she speaks up at meetings is not normal behavior. It is the behavior of a bully who is intent on intimidating and inflicting physical and/or emotional harm,” wrote Bishop in her statement.
City Police have not yet decided how to respond to Bishop’s complaint against DiLetto.