An Alameda County Superior Court commissioner ordered Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle school teacher and activist, to pay former Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, president Troy Worden $11,100 in legal fees Thursday.
Worden and his attorneys initially filed a motion against Felarca in November asking for more than $100,000 in damages. The motion was in response to a temporary restraining order Felarca filed against Worden in September. Felarca eventually dismissed the restraining order in late October.
The decided $11,100 will cover Worden’s attorney’s fees, according to Mark Meuser, Worden’s attorney. The fees go toward the time Worden’s attorneys spent gathering evidence against Felarca in her petition for a restraining order.
“It’s outrageous,” said Ronald Cruz, Felarca’s attorney. “I think that the decision sends a message to women across the Bay Area to have second thoughts about getting a restraining order against your harasser.”
Judicial Commissioner Thomas Rasch ruled that Felarca did not file a restraining order against Worden in “good faith,” prompting the order for her to pay Worden’s legal fees.
Regarding the ruling, Cruz said Rasch’s statement was “false” and an attempt to “justify a predetermined outcome” in the lawsuit against Felarca.
In her petition for a temporary restraining order, Felarca, a By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, activist, alleged that Worden stalked, threatened and harassed her in a series of incidents on Sproul plaza and at BAMN meetings. Initially, Worden was required to keep a 100-yard distance from Felarca. The distance was later reduced to 10 yards because the initial restraining order restricted Worden’s movement on campus.
Dhillon Law Group, representing Worden, said in a statement that Felarca filed a restraining order against Worden to limit his presence on campus when BCR invited conservative figures to speak on campus. Worden’s counsel produced evidence contradicting Felarca’s claims, according to the statement.
“We feel that this is a very good order, because the court saw that (Felarca’s petition for a restraining order) was a frivolous lawsuit brought to suppress Worden’s free speech,” said Meuser. “We think it was an important recognition by the court.”
Meuser added that the restraining order was a “political maneuver” that initially could have restricted Worden from being on Sproul Plaza for BCR events anytime Felarca was present as well.
In response to Dhillon Law Group’s statement, Cruz said the restraining order would not have limited Worden’s presence on campus because UC Berkeley is a “large” campus.
According to Cruz, Felarca and her attorneys plan to submit an appeal to the court to reverse the order.