ST. PETERSBURG — An ex-girlfriend of former St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Deveron Gibbons is alleging that he has threatened to harm her and, earlier this month, tried to run her off the road.
Rita Wesley, 41, is seeking a court injunction that would keep Gibbons 500 feet from her home and 100 feet from her car. In a petition to Pinellas Circuit Court, Wesley said they had dated for 12 years and that she was 10 weeks pregnant.
In a petition filed Friday, Wesley said she feared for her safety because Gibbons had threatened to harm her, dropped by uninvited to her home and workplace, and made harassing phone calls in which he demanded that she return items he had given her. She said he owns a gun, but didn't say he had threatened her with it.
Gibbons also tried to convince her to have an abortion, Wesley said in the petition.
Reached on Tuesday by phone, Gibbons said he "didn't know anything" about the complaint. Asked about Wesley's allegation that he was pressuring her to get an abortion, Gibbons said "I've never had such a conversation."
He referred further questions to his attorney, David Del Vecchio.
"Mr. Gibbons is very much a gentleman who has never harassed, stalked or threatened violence against any woman," Del Vecchio said. "Once the evidence is presented, there will be enough contradictions to cause the injunction to be dismissed."
At 37, Gibbons is considered a force in St. Petersburg politics. A vice president for Amscot Financial, he sits on the board of trustees for St. Petersburg College. In last year's bid for mayor, Gibbons got the backing of Gov. Charlie Crist and came in third behind Kathleen Ford and the eventual winner, Bill Foster.
Even then, however, Gibbons' private life was fodder for opponents. At a candidate forum last summer, Gibbons was asked whether he'd be a good role model for city youths considering that he had two children out of wedlock. Gibbons responded that his children are well cared for, adding "just because I don't live in their household doesn't mean they're destined to fail."
It's not clear if Wesley is the mother of his two children.
On Thursday, St. Petersburg police answered a domestic quarrel call at Wesley's home at 5:37 p.m. Officer Bobby Law said in his report that Gibbons was gone by the time he arrived. Wesley said it had been a verbal dispute over personal issues and there were no signs of injuries, the report stated. Wesley later said Gibbons wanted the dog back he had given her as well as other gifts.
Then, a few hours later on Friday, Wesley called police to complain about calls Gibbons made. She told police he called her five or six times without leaving a message. In a court filing, Wesley said Gibbons had threatened to harm her on June 14 at her workplace. She also alleged that Gibbons tried to run her off the road while she was on her way to file an injunction against him on June 12. She said she called the police, but no report was filed.
The injunction against Gibbons has already been granted, which is standard in instances where a woman seeks protection from dating violence. The hearing on whether it will be upheld is scheduled for July 7 at 10 a.m. at the St. Petersburg Judicial Building.
Times researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report. Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or [email protected]