Fabián Basabe complains he hasn’t been served lawsuit over touching, defamation; plaintiffs say they can’t find him
Image via Florida House.

Fabian Basabe Florida House
In its present form, the complaint includes 3 accusations of battery and a joint charges of defamation.

Miami Beach Rep. Fabián Basabe is complaining his accusers in a battery and defamation lawsuit are trying to tarnish his reputation by slow-walking service of the complaint in order to delay court proceedings.

An attorney for the plaintiffs — former staffer Nick Frevola and former intern Jacob Cutbirth — says that’s nonsense, citing more than a dozen attempts to serve Basabe since the lawsuit’s filing in early July.

By Monday afternoon, the two parties reached an apparent agreement, according to attorney Cindy Myers, who represents Frevola and Cutbirth. She told Florida Politics a Tallahassee lawyer Basabe recently retained, Gus Harper, confirmed he will accept service of the lawsuit within the next two weeks.

On Monday morning, Basabe issued a press release through conservative public relations firm Think Right PR asserting his innocence and demanding that the case move ahead.

Basabe said he has endured “nonstop attacks” on his character due to the lawsuit, which includes accusations he groped, tried to kiss and made multiple unwanted sexual advances toward Frevola and Cutbirth — and then publicly disparaged Frevola following an “inconclusive” investigation into a separate battery incident.

“I want my day in court, and I want anyone involved with (these) false allegations to be deposed under oath, and under penalty of perjury,” he said.

He said he’s waited “three long months” to be served with the lawsuit. Leon County Clerk records show Myers and attorneys Marie Mattox and Al Frevola, Nick Frevola’s uncle, filed the lawsuit July 6, two months and five days ago. Shown this, Basabe told Florida Politics the number of days “is inconsequential — two weeks is already too long.”

“If they’re serious about serving somebody, they serve somebody,” he said. “I am the most visible Representative in the history of my district, and I’m everywhere every day serving the needs of constituents.”

Myers provided Florida Politics with a timeline and notes dating back to July 21. The document shows 15 failed attempts by two employees of the process-serving firm, Accurate Serve, to hand Basabe a summons, complaint and related papers. The attempts took place through Monday at Basabe’s Miami Beach home, his district office in North Bay Village, his Tallahassee office, his mother’s residence and the New World Center on Aug. 31 during the swearing in of Miami Beach Police Chief Wayne Jones.

None proved successful.

“He has been dodging process servers,” Myers said, adding that she also called Robert Fernandez, another lawyer representing Basabe, to ask him to accept service. Fernandez, she said, “refused to take my calls or call me back.”

Word of problems between Basabe and Frevola arose April 13, when CBS News reported of an investigation into the aide’s accusation that the freshman Republican lawmaker slapped his face in January at a post-election reception in Tallahassee.

Two and a half months later, after interviewing Basabe, Frevola and others the two said witnessed the incident, a law firm the House retained to investigate the matter found evidence supporting the claim was “inconclusive.”

Frevola, 25, and Cutbirth, 24, sued Basabe the following month alongside Frevola’s mother, Janette Frevola, a former executive secretary in the Office of the General Counsel. It claimed Basabe, 45, made repeated sexual comments and advances toward the two men and on three occasions either slapped, groped or tried to kiss them.

The suit also seeks joint legal damages for Frevola and his mother over an acidic statement Basabe posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, calling them a “conning, scheming mother and son duo (who have made) suing a profession.”

By the time the lawsuit hits Harper’s desk, it will include two additional charges of sexual harassment — one pertaining to Frevola, the other to Cutbirth — that Myers said she, Mattox and Frevola requested and recently received from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In its present form, the lawsuit includes one accusation of defamation and three charges of battery.

There is also a second House investigation underway into the sexual harassment allegations.

Basabe, a wealthy socialite-turned-politician, maintains he is innocent of any sexually related misconduct.

He denounced the accusations as a spiteful attempt to disparage him and undermine his work as an elected official.

“I continue to fulfill my campaign promise, despite disinformation campaigns, and I continue to show up on behalf of the good people of my district and of Florida, in the spirit of true community service,” he said. “The nonstop attacks on my character not only take away from my mission and personal life but are also intended to hinder the success of the bills I plan on introducing to help the people in my district.”

Fernandez has called the lawsuit “frivolous and meritless” and said he believes his client will be fully vindicated once the allegations are examined in court.

Basabe has faced past accusations of making racist remarks during Miami’s annual Art Basel event and in 2020 was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service’s Fugitive Task Force after crossing state lines following an altercation with a neighbor over which Miami Beach police issued a warrant.

He’s also being sued in Miami-Dade County court for allegedly failing to uphold his end of an investment deal involving classic 1990s-era Land Rovers.

Of note, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Harper in October 2017 for misleading a teacher five years earlier into believing she faced accusations of inappropriate touching of a student.

The teacher paid him $10,000 to represent her in a case that never materialized. No criminal charges were filed. The Department of Children and Families never opened an investigation. There was never even a police report.

The conditional guilty plea for consent judgment of the reprimand stated that after the teacher was exonerated by the Diocese of St. Augustine, she requested a refund. A managing partner at the firm where Harper worked at the time, Broad and Cassel — now Nelson Mullins — denied her request, explaining that Harper “continued to work on her employment matter after her contract was not renewed by the school and therefore, had earned the fees.”

Florida Politics contacted Harper for comment but received none by press time.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.



#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories


This is default text for notification bar