SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 21, 2013

Unwanted invitation lands Beverly man in trouble

BEVERLY — Prosecutors say Thomas Gagnon violated a restraining order by sending his former girlfriend an invitation to join his Google Plus circle.

But Gagnon’s attorney says his client has no idea how the woman he once planned to marry — popping the question with a $4,000 ring earlier this month — got such an invitation, suggesting that it might have been sent by a robot.

A Salem District Court judge yesterday admitted he wasn’t sure exactly how such invitations work on Google’s social media site, but he set bail for Gagnon, 32, at $500 and ordered him to stay away from the woman’s home and obey the restraining order she took out on Monday.

Gagnon, of 10 Wilson St., Beverly, was arrested Thursday evening at his home, 90 minutes after his former girlfriend went to the police station with a printed copy of the Google Plus invitation and the restraining order.

Police agreed that the invitation violated the order, and obtained an arrest warrant.

But Gagnon’s attorney, Neil Hourihan, called the complaint “absolutely unfounded.”

Hourihan told Judge Robert Brennan that earlier this month, on a Friday, his client had given the woman a diamond engagement ring, and that the following day she broke up with him. A few days later she went to court to obtain a restraining order barring him from any contact with her.

Hourihan suggested that unlike Facebook, which requires users to select potential friends, he believes Google Plus generates invitations for “anyone you’ve ever contacted.”

The judge, recalling the restraining order hearing, said he had some concerns about Gagnon’s ability to follow court orders. He denied prosecutors’ request to ban Gagnon from the entire length of Cabot Street, which is also known as Route 1A, in Beverly, but did warn him to stay away from his former girlfriend’s house.

It’s not clear from court papers whether the ring has been returned to Gagnon.

A status hearing in the case is set for Feb. 6.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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