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Michael Nowacki

Other Connecticut Cases
In January 2012, Michael Nowacki was convicted in Fairfield County, Connecticut of harassment and violating an order of protection.

Nowacki and his ex-wife, Suzanne Sullivan, of New Canaan, Connecticut, dissolved their marriage in 2005, and from then until the end of 2009 shared joint custody of their two children. In October 2009, Nowacki and Sullivan employed a nanny, Katelyn Waters under an employment agreement signed by Nowacki and Waters.

The agreement called for Nowacki to pay 65 percent of Waters’ salary and expenses, which included her leased car. In December 2009, Sullivan was awarded full custody of the two children and Waters believed she was exclusively employed by Sullivan—a belief that was confirmed by Sullivan.

But Nowacki believed that he and Sullivan were co-employers pursuant to the employment contract.

On February 21, 2010, Nowacki telephoned Waters, who was at a different job, to talk about tire maintenance for the leased vehicle. Waters told Nowacki she no longer worked for him and not to contact her again. Nowacki then drove to Waters’ workplace and confronted her. Waters threatened to call the police and Nowacki drove off with Waters’ leased car. Waters called police who arranged for the return of Waters’ personal belongings that were in the car.

The following day, February 22, Sullivan saw Nowacki parked on the shared driveway in front of her home. Sullivan and Waters drove one of the children to school. While Sullivan was escorting her child into the school, Nowacki approached Sullivan’s car and banged on the rear window in an attempt to get Waters’ attention. Sullivan saw this and yelled at Nowacki. She then got back into her car and drove to the New Canaan Police Department and filled out an affidavit on the day’s events.

Waters returned to the Sullivan house alone and saw Nowacki sitting in his car in the driveway again. Waters called the police. Officer Kevin Casey responded and told Nowacki to cease all contact, including phone, email and in person, with Sullivan and Waters (although there was no protective order in effect at that time).

A day later, on February 23, 2010, Nowacki emailed Waters threatening legal action if she did not comply with the employment contract. Waters then contacted police again and Nowacki was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and illegal use of a motor vehicle with the intent to harass or intimidate for the incident at the school and an additional misdemeanor harassment charge relating to the email.

On February 24, 2010, after Nowacki pled not guilty and demanded a trial, the court entered a protective order barring him from contacting Waters and Sullivan.

On June 15, 2010, Sullivan received an email from Nowacki that was also addressed to Wayne Fox, an attorney representing the town of Darien. The email was copied to the editor of the Darien Times, a local newspaper. The subject of the email was an unrelated ongoing dispute over a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act filed by Nowacki.

Sullivan reported the email to the New Canaan Police and Nowacki was rearrested and charged with violating the protective order.

Nowacki, a former vice president of advertising sales for daytime and children’s programming at CBS television, went to trial on all charges in January 2012, representing himself without a lawyer. Nowacki contended that the email to Sullivan was a mistake—that he intended to send it to Susan Shultz, a reporter for the Darien Times, but inadvertently selected Sullivan’s name instead of Shultz’s when he addressed the email.

Nowacki requested a subpoena be issued for Shultz—one of 94 people on his witness list. The vast majority of the subpoena requests were denied, including the subpoena for Shultz.

At the end of a two-week trial, which was highlighted by Nowacki taking the witness stand in his own defense and questioning himself, the jury convicted Nowacki of violating the protective order and harassment. He was acquitted of the harassment by vehicle and disorderly conduct.

The judge sentenced him to 15 months in prison, but the sentence was stayed pending appeal after Nowacki posted a $100,000 bond.

In March 2015, the Connecticut Court of Appeals reversed the convictions and dismissed the harassment charge completely. The court held that the conviction was dependent solely upon the content of the email to Waters, and there were no true threats contained in the email. Therefore his conviction for harassment based on the contents of the email violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

The court ordered a new trial on the charge of violating the protective order, ruling that the trial judge erroneously barred Nowacki not only from calling Shultz as a witness, but from testifying about who Shultz was, or the context for why he intended to send the email to her—instead of Sullivan. The court concluded that the ruling prevented Nowacki from presenting a “meaningful defense.”

On May 6, 2015, the prosecution dismissed the charge. Nowacki filed a federal civil lawsuit seeking damages, but the case was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/25/2015
Last Updated: 7/19/2017
Most Serious Crime:Other Nonviolent Felony
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2010
Sentence:1 year and 3 months
Age at the date of reported crime:57
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No