In a small Texas town of 3,300 people, a neighborly dispute has moved to a court of law.
Scott and Terri Gale, 59 and 52, of Kemah, are seeking a restraining order against neighbor Natalie Belk, 40, who lives directly across the street from them, alleging she installed two surveillance cameras mounted on the front of her house that they claim point directly at their balcony whose windows open into their bedroom and bathroom.
“These cameras are clearly pointed at the balcony of our house, rather than the street or the driveway of her own house,” Scott Gale stated in an affidavit filed on Nov. 21 in state district court in Galveston County.
“We didn’t want to file at all, but she left us no other option,” Gale told ABC News.
Belk installed the cameras in September 2012, according to the court filing, but the Gales say the problems with Belk started as far back as 2008, when Belk, they say, let her dog out unleashed. ”The dog was a nuisance, barking constantly at us and even came onto our property on numerous occasions, chasing me up the driveway,” Gale claimed in the affidavit that accompanied the court filing.
Gale told ABC News that the situation had recently escalated to the point where he had no choice but to file for a restraining order.
“I haven’t been living a normal life for the past four weeks,” Gale said.
Gale said his wife, Terri, was president of the Water Board and had also run for City Council. He told ABC News and alleged in the lawsuit that Belk’s actions might be politically motivated.
“Ms. Belk’s animosity was most particularly noticeable around the time of the mayoral election campaign in 2011,” Gale told ABC News and claimed in the court filing. “There were 11 police calls from Ms. Belk on us between February 2011 and November 2012,” he said in the affidavit.
According to the court filing, Belk has contacted the police no less than 35 times “in an attempt to harass” the Gales.
Gale, however, told ABC News that his lawyer, Daniel A. Krieger, calculated that Belk had called the police about the Gales — and their neighbors — more than 80 times.
The Kemah Police Department confirmed that Belk had made “calls for services” but would not comment on the number of times she’d called or the reasons for her calls.
ABC News’ calls to Krieger were not returned.
“She keeps calling the police on me,” said Gale. “Even they’re tired of it.”
In the affidavit, Gale claims that Belk has even gotten her son involved in her actions. “We have observed Ms. Belk’s son recording us with his cellphone. Specifically, any time I emerge from the house, the boy appears and stands near the end of his driveway with his cellphone, recording what I say and do. … They have fabricated statements, saying I’m verbally attacking the children. She has unsuccessfully attempted to get a peace bond against me and has repeatedly had me cited by police. None of these cases has resulted in any type of deferred adjudication or conviction.”
All of ABC News’ attempts to reach Belk have failed. It is not known if she has a lawyer, or if she’s even been served with the restraining order.
The Gales claim they cannot walk to the mailbox, work in the front yard or take out the garbage without wearing the body cameras they say the Kemah police advised them to wear to protect themselves against any false accusations.
The Gales requested, according to the court filing, that Belk “be temporarily restrained immediately,” and that she be prohibited from communicating with them in person, by telephone or in writing in vulgar, profane, obscene or indecent language; threatening them in person, by telephone or in writing; causing them bodily injury; threatening them with bodily injury, filming or pointing cameras at their bathroom or bedroom windows; surreptitiously recording conversations that she is not a party to; damaging or destroying any video surveillance or audio recordings of the Gales, among other restraints. The Gales are also seeking unspecified damages.