ORLANDO – Richard Mask, the Winter Garden businessman who filed a defamation lawsuit against radio talk show host Doug Guetzloe, says he had a very specific reason for getting so offended when he heard a copy of Guetzloe program.
“I felt like this man had accused me of being a pedofile,” Mask said. “Well, about 52 years ago, I was on the other end of that. I know what a pedophile does.”
Mask testified on the fourth day of his defamation trial again Guetzloe, host of The Guetzloe Report. The case dates back to 2006, when Guetzloe was involved in a fight to save a mobile home park called Trailer City from being demolished, forcing the mainly elderly residents out of their home.
Mask, a former member of the city’s zoning board, had been seen in the park talking to some children by one of the park’s supporters, who notified Guetzloe. In his radio broadcast, Guetzloe said “Richard Mask was seen in the park, Trailer City, in the park apparently approaching two young boys who live in the park, and that, in and of itself, is needless to say a concern. I certainly wouldn’t approach a car with Richard Mask in it. But apparently he is also cruising Trailer City. So now we find out that Mr. Mask is cruising Trailer City apparently trying to talk to young boys out of his car …. I don’t know what his problem is, but he needs to stay away from young boys.”
Mask sued, claiming Guetzloe had implied that he was a pedophile. Guetzloe denied that, and said he was questioning whether Mask was in the park looking for code violations that could help close it, since the park was slated as being for adults only.
While testifying on Thursday, Mask said he was outraged at the comments because of his own past history.
“Unless you’ve ever had … unless you’ve ever been in the situation of a young child being victimized by a pedophile, it’s one of the worst things in the world to be accused of being one,” he said. “I don’t know of anything worse. I was five years old when something happened to me, and you will never ever – never ever forget that.”
Mask’s attorney, Howard Marks, asked him, “Listening to that tape and knowing that it aired in the city you’d grown up in, how did that make you feel?”
Mask responded, “I don’t know how to describe it to you … hurt. You can’t breathe. You see, Mr. Guetzloe is not from Winter Garden. He don’t live there. I have, all my life, and people know me. I’m no great person, by any means. But I would never … I would never … I can’t even imagine a pedophile, what drives them.”
Mask said he only recently told his wife about the sexual abuse he had endured as a child.
“My wife, she didn’t know about it until a week ago,” he said.
Under cross examination from Guetzloe’s lawyer, Fred O’Neal, Mask acknowledged that Guetzloe never used the word pedophile in his radio broadcast.
“Nowhere in that is the word pedophile,” Mask said, but added, “The insinuation runs all through it.”
O’Neal read each line from the radio show’s transcript, and asked Mask if that particular line made him feel that Guetzloe was calling him a pedophile.
Mask responded, “I see it as Mr. Guetzloe not using the word pedophile, but implying that I could be.”
O’Neal asked Mask if he felt Guetzloe had been suggesting it was a possibility that he was pedophile – or if he actually was one.
“When you heard this, did you come up with the impression that ‘It’s possible I’m a pedophile,’ or were you coming away with the impression that ‘Mr. Mask is a pedophile’?” O’Neal asked.
“You’re taking a radio show with words that flowed, and trying to break it down. I see Mr. Guetzloe incriminating me with using every word but that one word to imply I’m a pedophile,” Mask said.
O’Neal also asked if Mask’s past history had impacted how strongly he reacted to Guetzloe’s radio show.
“I know that it’s painful for you to dredge up old memories,” O’Neal said. “Because of what’s happened to you in the distant past, you might be more sensitive to this subject than other people might.”
“Mr. Guetzloe said I was trolling for little boys,” Mask said.
Both O’Neal and Marks asked Mask if he had ever gone into Trailer City and talked to young boys. Mask testified that he lived close to Trailer City, had used the swimming pool there, and had a son who liked to play in that park.
“I have been going into Trailer City and talking to two young boys, maybe three young boys, maybe five young boys – no matter who my son was talking to,” Mask said.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.