Somerville Mayor Sues Controversial Site Barstool Sports

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone in 2017 (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone in 2017 (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone is suing a Boston sports commentator and website Barstool Sports, accusing both of violating state wiretapping statutes.

The civil lawsuit comes after a few weeks of a public back-and-forth on social media between Curtatone and David Portnoy, president of Barstool Sports, a site aimed at young men that has long been controversial.

According to the complaint, filed in Middlesex Superior Court Monday, the conflict between Curtatone and Barstool Sports began at the end of May during the Stanley Cup Final. Curtatone condemned the site after Jessica Heslam of The Boston Herald criticized the Boston Bruins for partnering with the site for Bruins towels handed out to fans at Game 2.

Portnoy shot back on Twitter and on Barstool Sports, saying "Joe Curtatone appears to be a professional criminal. Like a real life mob boss," and posting screenshots of headlines that ran in local media about Curtatone and his family.

Curtatone's complaint says Kirk Minihane, working for Barstool, called the mayor's office pretending to be The Boston Globe's Kevin Cullen. This ruse worked and Curtatone did speak to Minihane over the telephone, believing him to be Cullen.

The complaint states: "Minihane, posing as Cullen, asked for Mayor Curtatone's consent to record him during the interview by stating, 'I'm just going to record this so we have it, is that good?' Mayor Curtatone, believing that he was speaking to a representative of a legitimate news organization, the Boston Globe, responded 'no problem.' "

Curtatone spoke to Minihane for about 20 minutes, and Barstool posted the audio and a video of Minihane on its site, titling it "Kirk Minhane AKA 'Kevin Cullen from The Boston Globe' Interviews Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone."

This action, says Curtatone, violated Massachusetts wiretapping laws; because Minihane lied about who he was, Curtatone says he did not consent to the interview being recorded.

Curtatone is asking for a jury trial and says any damages awarded to him will go to the RESPOND women's shelter in Somerville.

In response, Portnoy defended Minihane, saying Curtatone wouldn't agree to an interview or debate with Portnoy or Minihane, and that his interview was not taken out of context.

"Kirk didn't make him look bad," Portnoy wrote on Barstool. "Joe Curtatone made himself look bad."

Minihane joked on the radio that he planned to "countersue [Curtatone] for emotional damage and distress."


Meghan B. Kelly Multi-platform Editor
Meghan is the multi-platform editor for WBUR.



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