A legislative aide filed a defamation lawsuit against Rep. Carolina Amesty on Wednesday, claiming she falsely accused him of trying to run her over with a car during the Republican primary.
The aide, Nicolas Frevola, is the son of Janet Frevola, one of four Republicans Amesty defeated in the August 2022 primary before going on to win her District 45 seat, which covers Windermere, other west Orange County communities and a northern slice of Osceola County.
According to the lawsuit, Frevola, 26, said he learned of the accusation on Dec. 12 from his then-boss, Rep. Fabian Basabe, R-Miami Beach. Basabe told Frevola that Amesty claimed the aide had tried to run her over with a white car sometime during the primary, the suit says. The next day Amesty questioned him about the alleged incident, too.
Frevola told both lawmakers the accusation was not true and that he drives a silver car, not a white one, the lawsuit said. He remains unclear about exactly when or where the alleged incident was to have happened and could find no evidence Amesty had ever reported it to law enforcement, one of his attorneys said.
In an email late Wednesday, Amesty called the lawsuit “meritless” and said “its frivolity will not distract me” from work as a legislator. “I am concerned this young man may have been given bad advice about using courts for publicity and other political purposes. Since I am referring this matter to legal counsel, I will not go into additional details at this time,” she wrote.
A first-term lawmaker, Amesty was the subject of an Orlando Sentinel investigation last month that documented unpaid taxes on the home where she lived, misleading claims about her businesses and false statements to the state about faculty at her family’s small, private Christian university.
Frevola is seeking damages of more than $50,000 for the harm caused by Amesty’s allegation, including “extreme humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish, pain and suffering.” Amesty’s allegations also hurt Frevola’s reputation and career prospects, the suit filed in Leon Circuit Court said.
“Few good, decent, or honorable people want to have business relationships with a person possessing the qualities,” that Amesty described in her false allegations, the suit said.
The lawsuit also contends that House Speaker Paul Renner, a Republican from Flagler County, and his chief of staff heard about Amesty’s accusation and then Frevola’s denial but did not investigate, even after Frevola filed a complaint with the House’s human resources office.
Frevola and his mother, then working as a secretary in the House’s Office of the General Counsel, attended an April 11 meeting with human resources, the lawsuit said.
Basabe told Frevola the speaker’s office wanted him terminated immediately, the lawsuit said.
Spokespeople for the House Speaker’s Office did not respond on Wednesday to an email seeking comment.
Frevola no longer works for Basabe after the lawmaker was accused of slapping him and telling him to stand in a corner at a social gathering following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ inauguration in January.
Frevola remains a House employee, however, assigned to a different district, according to the lawsuit.
Frevola and Jacob Cutbirth, a former intern in Basabe’s office, filed a lawsuit against Basabe in July, accusing him of sexual harassment, unwanted touching, making lewd comments, showing them a photo of a naked man on his phone and slapping Frevola.
A week later they also filed a complaint against Basabe with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Miami Herald reported.
Basabe has denied the accusations leveled against him by Frevola, whose employment he described as a “mountain of disappointment.” Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Basabe said that a House investigation into the alleged slapping incident had been concluded “rightly in my favor.”
But the investigation by an outside law firm was “inconclusive,” according to the Miami New Times, which published a copy of it because it failed to determine what happened because of conflicting accounts and “a lack of corroborating witnesses.”
Frevola’s attorney Cindy Myers said her client initially was eager to serve as the freshman representative’s aide when he started working with him in December. Frevloa felt “honored” to be chosen for the role, she said, and quickly went to work helping draft legislation for Basabe.
“I think it’s just a shame,” Myers said of the sexual harassment and false allegations she said her client endured.
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