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In 2016, Joseph Sinclair revealed to his parents that he had been sexually abused by a neighbor who babysat him as a child. This disclosure led to the family seeking years of therapy to heal from the trauma. However, the situation took a new turn when Maureen Sartain, the babysitter accused by Sinclair, filed a lawsuit against Sinclair’s mother, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. The case is set to go to trial in New York, causing further distress to the Sinclairs who feel they are being forced to relive the trauma.

Sartain, through her attorney, denied the abuse allegations and is not suing for defamation. Legal experts have expressed surprise at the case going to trial, suggesting that it is an effort to reframe a defamation case as an emotional distress case to avoid the truth test. The Sinclairs had avoided Sartain for years following the revelation of the abuse, as they focused on Joseph’s healing process. However, in 2020, Marie Sinclair decided to confront Sartain through messages sent to her social network contacts, accusing her of being a pedophile and rapist.

The messages sent by Marie Sinclair led to Sartain filing a lawsuit against her for intentional infliction of emotional distress, alleging harassment and defamation. The trial is pending, causing additional pain to the Sinclairs, who believe Sartain to be an abuser. Joseph Sinclair, the victim of the alleged abuse, has stated that the experience has affected him deeply, impacting his relationships and self-esteem. Although he did not pursue criminal or civil action against Sartain in the past, he now plans to testify in his mother’s defense.

Following the disclosure of the abuse, the Sinclairs sought advice from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office on the possibility of prosecuting Sartain. They did not receive a response and were informed that without physical evidence, a criminal case would be difficult to win. The Sinclairs are now preparing for the trial, with jury selection scheduled to begin soon. Sartain testified in a deposition that the accusations led to panic attacks, stress, and social isolation, while Marie Sinclair defended her actions as an effort to protect potential victims.

The lawsuit filed by Sartain against the Sinclairs represents a complex legal situation, with some experts suggesting it is a strategic maneuver to overcome challenges in a defamation case. This approach, commonly known as an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, shifts the focus of the legal proceedings. Ultimately, the jury will have to determine whether Marie Sinclair’s conduct in making the accusations was extreme and outrageous. The ongoing legal battle has added further strain to both parties, highlighting the complexities and emotional toll of such cases.

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