The town of Bar Harbor is likely to agree to a massive settlement with a left-wing protester who was arrested last year for harassing and threatening a prominent conservative legal activist, his wife, and their 11-year-old daughter.
Two sources familiar with the town leadership’s thinking said Bar Harbor was planning to settle with Eli Durand-McDonnell, 24, even before he officially filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming that he was wrongfully arrested in 2022.
Officers from the Bar Harbor Police Department and the Mount Desert Island Police Department arrested Durand-McDonnell on July 31, 2022 after he shouted threatening obscenities at Leonard Leo, the co-chairman of the Federalist Society, and his family.
Durand-McDonnell’s arrest occurred at a protest outside Leo’s home some time after he shouted at Leo and his family. He was charged with disorderly conduct; however, Hancock County District Attorney Robert Granger dropped those charges in May, saying the case wasn’t a top priority for his office.
The settlement may run as high as $150,000, according to one source.
A local blogger who frequently posts Leo’s address confirmed that the towns of Bar Harbor and Mount Desert were served papers on July 12 asking for that amount of money.
The source said the settlement was being negotiated before Durand-McDonnell had even filed an official complaint against the Bar Harbor Police Department.
On Thursday, after the publication of the original version of this story, Durand-McDonnell’s attorney filed the lawsuit in federal court.
According to an interview provided to the New Yorker by Durand-McDonnell and his mother, Anna Durand, it was Durand who shouted, “You’re a f***ing as**ole. You’re going to hell. Your whole family is going to hell,” not her son.
Durand-McDonnell told the New Yorker he merely added, “You’re a racist.”
A clerk at the Bar Harbor Town Office said town officials would be unable to provide a comment about the settlement Wednesday because of a lack of personnel at the office.
In a statement, Leo told the Maine Wire that Durand-McDonnell’s conduct went beyond that of other protesters when he targeted his wife and young daughter.
“There have been numerous protests outside my house and many offensive statements hurled at me personally, all without a threat to my family. But Mr. Durand went out of his way to harass my wife and young daughter as we were walking along the street, accosting them directly after addressing me and then standing outside our house to be there when we returned,” Leo said.
“I informed the police because his repeated incidents of erratic and aggressive demeanor had escalated into targeting my family. I relied on the police to figure out how best to resolve this. The district attorney declined to prosecute citing lack of resources, but I hope Mr. Durand gets the help he needs to properly distinguish between First Amendment speech and menacing attacks on innocent bystanders,” Leo said.
The Bar Harbor Police Department did not return a phone call seeking comment about the arrest and the settlement.
Although Leo has lived in Northeast Harbor for several years, he first drew the ire of liberal agitators following Supreme Court decisions that made left-wing activists unhappy, especially the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Leo advised President Donald Trump on the nominations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, and he has been the subject of significant investigative attention from liberal news outlets like Pro Publica, the New York Times, Politico, and the Washington Post.
The media attention has spurred liberal activists to periodically protest outside his home.
Around the same time as Durand-McDonnell’s arrest, similar protests had unfolded outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court Justices.
In one instance, an activist was arrested after traveling from California to Maryland with a plan to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh and then commit suicide.
In body camera audio obtained by the Bangor Daily News, Leo can be heard explaining to police officers that Durand-McDonnell had screamed obscenities at him and his family before returning to the Leo home to await their return.
According to Leo, Durand-McDonnell had been harassing them for weeks, but he only decided to involve the police when he perceived a threat to his wife and daughter.
“I mean, if he wants to put a bullet between my two eyes, fine. Let him do it, OK?” Leo said. “But I can’t have him dealing with my family that way.”
Durand-McDonnell, through his attorney, has denied screaming at the then-11-year-old girl, according to the Bangor Daily News.
According to police records reviewed by the Maine Wire, Durand-McDonnell was in the passenger seat of a vehicle that approached Leo and his family as they were walking down the street.
As the vehicle stopped, Durand-McDonnell put his head out the window and shouted obscenities at Leo, his wife, and their daughter, according to the records that supported his arrest.
When the Leo family returned to their home, Durand-McDonnell, easily recognizable with bleached blonde close-cropped hair, was waiting for them outside their driveway among a throng of pro-abortion protesters.
Video of the arrest shows that the officers did not use excessive force, and Durand-McDonnell submitted peacefully.
It’s unclear why the town would agree to such a large settlement or who would be responsible for agreeing to it.
Under Maine law, disorderly conduct is a Class E Misdemeanor defined as follows: “In a public or private place, the person knowingly accosts, insults, taunts or challenges any person with offensive, derisive or annoying words, or by gestures or other physical conduct, that would in fact have a direct tendency to cause a violent response by an ordinary person in the situation of the person so accosted, insulted, taunted or challenged.”
None of Bar Harbor’s town councilors responded to email inquiries.
In the video of the arrest, activists can be heard berating and harassing the two cops as they calmly place Durand-McDonnell under arrest.
Durand-McDonnell is the son of Anna Durand and Ralph McDonnell, the owners of the Acacia House Inn. His mother sits on Bar Harbor’s Board of Appeals and is an outspoken Democratic activist.
According to his social media accounts, Durand-McDonnell graduated from Oberlin College in 2021 after majoring in Politics with a concentration in “Peace and Conflict Studies.”
For the past 11 months, Durand-McDonnell has worked as an intern for the Falmouth-based nonprofit Maine Boys to Men, which focuses on anti-violence counseling for youth.
“I have been especially involved with planning Maine Boys to Men’s Youth Council, and enjoy finding ways to support young leaders as they tackle issues of masculinity, healthy relationships, and violence prevention in their own communities,” Durand-McDonnell said in a 2021 Instagram post from the organization.
The Maine Boys to Men website describes him as “a white cis man who uses he/him/his pronouns.”
Prior to news of the settlement, the Maine Wire recorded a podcast with Leo that covered his judicial activism, his life in Maine, and the protesters who have targeted him and his family. (You can listen to that podcast here.)