CHARLESTON -- A prominent public relations executive says her engagement ended when her former fiance committed domestic violence against her.
In an answer to an April 12 complaint filed by John H. McCutcheon, Healy E. Baumgardner Nardone says McCutcheon became verbally abusive and physically violent and abusive toward her after they became engaged in April 2008. She says McCutcheon threatened to kill her.
In addition, she claims McCutcheon committed a hate crime against an unknown person in Charleston in May 2008 "in an effort to intimidate" her.
"McCutcheon has committed acts of violence against Healy," said Wheeling attorney Teresa Toriseva, who is representing Baumgardner Nardone. "She didn't leave the relationship so much as she escaped it.
"In our opinion, McCutcheon is a spoiled rich guy who is making a desperate attempt to remain relevant and get attention by lashing out at Healy and who is misusing the court system by filing this abusive lawsuit. Its purpose is to intimidate and harass Healy as retaliation because she stood up and reported his violent attack upon her to the police."
Baumgardner Nardone was sued April 12 by McCutcheon, who alleges she failed to return the engagement ring when she ended the relationship, according to his complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Baumgardner Nardone is a former White House Press Official and Energy Press Secretary who also served as a Deputy Communications Director for Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In her answer and counterclaim/complaint, filed May 25 by Toriseva, Baumgardner Nardone says that McCutcheon became abusive toward her shortly after they became engaged. She claims he subsequently "struck an unknown African American male pedestrian with his car, while uttering an offensive and inappropriate racial slur, all in an effort to intimidate and harass" her.
She goes on to say that on May 21, 2008, McCutcheon "committed a violent act of domestic violence" against Baumgardner Nardone and threatened to take her life.
"After the domestic violence assault, Healy Baumgardner Nardone left the relationship she had with McCutcheon," the counterclaim states. "McCutcheon ended the engagement with Healy Baumgardner Nardone by committing domestic violence against her."
She says a criminal action against McCutcheon began after the assault, and that McCutcheon entered into a Pre-Trial Diversion program in May 2009 in which he was ordered to have no contact with Baumgardner Nardone. She says he never requested to have the ring returned until his original complaint was filed.
Baumgardner Nardone says McCutcheon's complaint is designed to "harass, intimidate and seek revenge" against her. She calls his complaint "extreme and outrageous" and calls his actions "cruel and inhuman."
In her counterclaim, Baumgardner Nardone says McCutcheon also has failed to pay $2,400 in rent to her as promised. She wants his complaint dismissed and to be awarded damages and court costs.
"Domestic violence is a serious public safety issue," Toriseva said Thursday. "Healy stood up to this attacker, not only for herself, but for others who are victims.
"We think McCutcheon is a bully, and this lawsuit is just another example of his abuse. We will defend it vigorously."
In his original complaint, McCutcheon claims the engagement ring he gave Baumgardner Nardone was valued in excess of $20,000. He claims Baumgardner Nardone never intended to marry McCutcheon and subsequently broke off the engagement. And he says Baumgardner Nardone failed to return the ring despite breaking off her engagement with him.
The defendant also attempted to extort and/or used threats and coercion to attempt to force McCutcheon to pay her a sum of money to which she was not entitled, according to his original suit.
Nardone and Charleston public relations executive Suzette Raines started Capital Communications Group (CCG), an issue and expert-based public relations and government affairs firm with locations in Washington, D.C., and Charleston in 2009. But Rained bought Nardone out in 2010. Nardone went on to marry someone else.
McCutcheon is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Stacy A. Jacques.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-598