Web Stories Tuesday, June 25

A former babysitter has dropped her lawsuit against a New York woman she accused of causing her emotional distress by telling others that she had sexually abused the woman’s son.

According to court documents filed this week, Maureen Sartain agreed to drop her lawsuit with prejudice, meaning she cannot refile the same claim in the court in which it was filed.

Sartain had alleged that Marie Sinclair intentionally caused her emotional distress by sending messages to Sartain’s friends and family and to the parents of children she may have cared for telling them that Sartain had abused Sinclair’s now adult son when she babysat him as a child. Some legal experts had expressed surprise at the nature of the suit and that the case had been scheduled to go to trial because Sartain did not sue Sinclair for defamation, which would have required her to prove that the statement in question was false.

Sartain has declined requests for an interview through her attorney Scott Mishkin, who did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday. Mishkin previously referred NBC News to Sartain’s deposition from last year, in which she denied abusing Sinclair’s son, Joseph Sinclair.

At the center of the suit were messages Sinclair sent to at least a dozen people on Facebook in 2020 accusing Sartain of being a pedophile who had raped her son. Sinclair had also sent the message to Sartain. The lawsuit, filed in 2021, said Sartain was “devastated to see that she was being accused of such conduct and was even more mortified over the fact that this false allegation was being sent to her friends and family.”

Marie Sinclair

About two weeks after she sent the messages, Sinclair received a cease-and-desist letter from Sartain’s attorney demanding that she “immediately publish an apology for her false statements.”

Sartain sued Sinclair three months later in February 2021. Sartain’s case was unique in that, while she denies the allegations, she did not sue Sinclair or her son for defamation.

Sartain testified in her deposition that she babysat for several families from approximately 1990 to 2002 in Smithtown on Long Island.

Joseph Sinclair, 28, first told his parents of the alleged abuse in 2016. He previously told NBC News that Sartain had abused him when he was 8 years old to about 13. He said he never pursued criminal or civil action against her because his focus has been on trying to heal.

In her deposition and in interviews with NBC News, Sinclair said her intention in sending the messages was to warn people about the kind of person she believed Sartain to be and to prevent other children from being harmed. She said Thursday that she believed she had succeeded in doing so.

Sinclair said she and her family are relieved that the suit has been dropped.

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