Polygraph tests taken by members of the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands should clear the names of members after a meeting in April ended in chaos and charges of physical assault, the committee announced at a Wednesday morning news conference.
The April 16 meeting took place against a backdrop of a struggle for control of the territory’s delegation to the Republican National Convention. The meeting ended with elected delegate Gwen Brady, who is one of the plaintiffs in a law suit filed against local party Chairman John Canegata, allegedly being ” slammed against the wall and thrown to the floor” by member Fred Espinosa. The claim is disputed.
Wednesday, the committee released the results of polygraph tests which they said proved their version of the events were true.
Scott Wiegmann, an ex FBI agent and experienced polygraph examiner from Florida, administered most of the tests earlier this week and spoke at the news conference.
Wiegmann tested Canegata, Espinosa, Garfield Doran, David Johnson and Dennis Lennox. Another examiner tested Lilliana Belardo O’Neil, who was off island.
In all the tests a finding was reported of “No Deception Indicated.”
The questions concerned events during and immediately after the April 16 Republican Territorial meeting. The dispute is over whether V.I. Director of Banking and Insurance Gwendolyn Brady was an aggressor or a victim of an assault at that time.
Questions to Canegata, as reported at the news conference included:
1– Did that woman (Gwendolyn Brady, hereafter “Brady”) grab your laptop computer? (Answer "Yes")
2 – Did that woman (Brady) grab your laptop from the table in front of you? (Answer "Yes")
3 – Did that woman (Brady) grab your laptop after adjournment? (Answer "Yes")
Test questions for several of the others asked if they saw anyone strike Brady or throw her to the ground. Their answers were "no."
The fight over Virgin Islands delegate seats for the Republican convention that resulted in the “chaos” at the April 16 meeting has garnered national attention. The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine wrote, “What’s going on in the Virgin Islands is a serious contender for the strangest story in an election season already overflowing with very strange developments. And it doesn’t look like the situation is going to be resolved anytime soon.”
What resolution the polygraph tests may point to remains to be seen. Wiegmann said that polygraph tests could not be admitted as evidence in court unless both sides agree. Attorney Scott McChain, who is representing Lennox in a possible defamation suit, did not attend the news conference, but had commissioned the testing. Contacted after the meeting he told the Source he believed in certain civil cases polygraphs could be admitted as evidence.
Wiegmann, when questioned by the Source, said the interviewees had input on what questions would be asked and “cross examination” was not part of the process.
In a written statement prior to the meeting Canegata said he hoped the lie detector tests would put an end to the matter.
“We hope these polygraph test results will lay to rest some of the shameful untruths that certain disgruntled members of the party continue to circulate in our small community and beyond. This has been a challenging time for the party and I commend these individuals for their honesty and strength of character – in addition to their willingness to endure the unique discomfort of taking a polygraph for the betterment of the party,” Canegata said.
Herb Schoenbohm has, along with Holland Redfield, led the opposition to Canegata’s removal of the six delegates (one of which is Brady) elected during the Virgin Islands Republican caucus. Canegata replaced those delegates with six others. Schoenbohm refused comment on the news conference since he was not there. He referred the Source to Redfield et al vs Canegata, a complaint filed on April 27 in Superior Court.
That complaint contains signed six affidavits from witnesses that contradict the impression being presented in the answers from the polygraph test. In her affidavit, Brady includes a statement; “Mr. Canegata, you, Mr. Lennox, and Mr. Espinosa were the aggressors. Mr. Canegata you aided and abetted the assault that Mr. Lennox and Mr. Espinosa committed against me.”
Espinosa is a member of the committee. The April 16 meeting at Canegata’s shooting range in St. Croix was the first attended by Lennox. Lennox was there as Canegata’s designated parliamentarian and told the Source he is a member of the Terretorial Committee. He is from Michigan, as are some of the delegates elected during the Republican caucus. Lennox moved to the territory March 28, establishing his residence on St. Croix. The Detroit News called Lennox a “Yob antagonist.” John and Ericka Yob are two of the elected delegates that Canegata says can’t represent the Virgin Islands at the Cleveland Republican Convention because they did not follow party rules.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Redfield dismissed Wednesday’s news conference as a "publicity stunt."
“This latest publicity stunt by Mr. Canegata merely demonstrates that he and his bullies can pay a so-called ‘expert’ to confirm that they are experienced pathological liars. Several persons who witnessed the events in question have filed sworn statements in court. We look forward to seeing the truth revealed in a court of law and allowing a jury to decide, after hearing all of the evidence, whether Mr. Espinosa maliciously assaulted the beloved widow of Judge Julio Brady,” Redfield said.
Canegata spoke at the news conference along with Wiegmann and Eszart Wynter, Sr., who is representing Espinosa. Attorney Mark Eckard, attorney for the Republican Party in the case Redfield et al vs Canegata, was also present at the conference at the Palms Resort.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to make it yet more clear that the claims made in a lawsuit against John Canegata are disputed. It was also edited to clarify that Dennis Lennox moved from Michigan to St. Croix in March.