A civil petition filed by former state Sen. Gene Stipe seeking a protective order against a McAlester Web site operator is set to go to court —with a different judge hearing the matter.

The case is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Pittsburg County Courthouse.

Stipe is seeking the protective order against Harold King, operator of a Web site in McAlester known as the McAlester Watercooler.

Stipe alleges in the petition that he has been threatened with physical harm and that his brother, Francis Stipe, has been threatened as well.

Gene Stipe is asking the court to order King to have no contact with him, in person or by telephone, at any time or place.

He is also asking the court to order King not to threaten, stalk or otherwise interfere with him.

Special Judge Bill Layden had been set to hear the matter, but he has recused himself.

In a court document, Layden said he has known Stipe for years and he does not know King.

“Still, this judge has no doubt that he could be fair and impartial in this matter,” Layden said.

However, to avoid even the appearance of any impropriety, Layden said he decided to disqualify himself from presiding over the hearing.

District Judge Thomas Bartheld has now assigned McIntosh County Associate District Judge Gene Mowery to hear the matter.

The petition seeking the protective order states that King made other threats about Gene Stipe to McAlester attorney Warren Gotcher.

Stipe referred in the protective order petition to an incident outside a McAlester restaurant earlier this year, when he said he felt physically threatened by King.

King and Stipe both filed complaints against each other after the alleged incident. Chris Wilson, the District 18 attorney at the time, declined to file charges against either of the two men after the McAlester Police Department completed an investigation.

Stipe also filed a criminal libel complaint against King last year after he objected to allegations made on King’s Web site.

Wilson also declined to file charges based on that complaint following an investigation by the McAlester Police Department.

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