WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Guilty. That's the verdict in a trial this morning for New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger. A judge found Berger did violate a protective order filed by his ex-girlfriend.
Berger was early for court Tuesday morning for a hearing on whether he violated the order. The charge came after Berger attended a community action incorporated meeting in November at the building where his ex-girlfriend Heather Blaylock works as a teacher.
Cameras were not allowed in court during testimony.
Blaylock said she knew Berger was aware of where she worked because at one point they joked about the location of the building being in a "bad part of town." Blaylock said she was not at the meeting that night but found out Berger was the next morning from coworkers.
Community Action Executive Director Cynthia Brown says she questioned Berger's attendance at the meeting almost immediately because she knew about the protective order Blaylock had against him. She notified board member Curtis Barnhill, a sergeant for the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
Barnhill said he told Berger he should not be at the school because he was violating the order. Barnhill testified Berger said he did not think Blaylock would be at the meeting, because it was late and she had young children and he would not let Blaylock stop him from doing his job as a county commissioner.
Then, Commissioner Berger took the stand to tell his side of the story. He said he had no idea the building was where Blaylock worked. In fact, he said he thought it was a church.
He then said he felt it necessary to attend the meeting because of the corruption he was told was taking place within the organization.
Judge Shelly Holt eventually found Berger guilty of violating the order, because it says to stay away from Blaylock's workplace, regardless of if she is there.
Deputies took Berger into custody, but released him on the $25,000 secured bond he posted Friday.
Because of his conviction, Berger will now again face charges from his June arrest after a fight with Blaylock that had been dismissed.
Berger's attorney Thom Goolsby has appealed this conviction to superior court. That hearing could happen as soon as March.