A family ripped apart two years ago by unfounded rumors, the likes of which destroying their business in the process, is getting the first inklings of retribution as the lawsuit they filed has led to some of the defendants settling out of court though a potential trial looms next spring.
Reneé Harpe and her husband, John Harpe, had owned and operated Village Kidz Daycare out of their home at 32nd Avenue West for nine years. But in late 2006, a mother of one of the children attending Village Kids, spread a rumor that reached the ears of other parents, who then spread the rumor further. More than half of the parents pulled their children from the daycare, Child Protective Services (CPS) was alerted and in a matter of months, the daycare went out of business.
Later, CPS concluded that the Harpes were innocent. But it was too late. The business was gone, and the personal humiliation was so great, that the couple and their two children, who also attended the daycare, put their house up for sale and moved out of King County.
Now, two years later, the couple are in the final stages of a lawsuit they filed against Alexandria Anderson, Christine Boardman, Jodi Cagnina and Amy Cox, according to court documents. In the suit, defendants were accused of spreading a rumor that John Harpe physically abused and molested children staying at the daycare. Court documents also said that John Harpe physically abused his wife, Reneé Harpe. The Harpes are seeking compensatory damages for the loss of their business, defamation, false light, outrage, negligence, civil conspiracy and assault and battery charges against Boardman.
Paul Fogarty, attorney for the Harpes, said some of the defendants have already settled out of court.
"We're in settlement talks right now with one of the defendants but I don't know where that's going to end up," Fogarty said. "We agreed to dismiss the case after the settlements but they didn't admit liability." The lead defendant has not yet settled. If that does not change, a trial will take place next March.[[In-content Ad]]