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Details Emerge in Lunsford Photo Scandal - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Details Emerge in Lunsford Photo Scandal

Posted: Updated: Wed, September 25th 2013 8:55 pm

DEVELOPING: New information and details about Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford's photo scandal are coming to light.

Earlier this month, Lunsford filed for a protective order, in Missouri, against her former lover, David Cosgrove claiming that he had posted nude and semi-nude pictures of her on the Internet and that in doing so he identified her both personally and professionally. Through a third party, NBC29's Henry Graff has obtained documents including Lunsford's complaint, her ex-lover's response and a host of communications between the two.

In his initial response, dated September 20, Cosgrove wants a Missouri judge to dismiss the order request and sanction Lunsford for filing an unnecessary legal complaint. In the response, Cosgrove alleges: 

"Lunsford did not file her petition out of legitimate concern for her personal safety. Rather she is abusing the adult abuse protective order process - and perhaps misleading this court – to punish Mr. Cosgrove and protect her own political ambitions. Ms. Lunsford apparently hoped to silence a former lover's constitutionally protected speech because that speech might harm her political career. Legitimate fear of harm was not driving her actions; Mr. Cosgrove has never injured or threatened Ms. Lunsford, has not come within 700 miles during the last three months, and has sent her only three docile electronic communications in the last month. Accordingly, the petition was filed and pursued without basis."

The response discusses Lunsford's and Cosgrove's relationship, which had a dozen romantic rendezvous in various cities including Louisville, Lexington, Washington, D.C., and on Captiva Island, Fla., that started in late 2012 and ended in August 2013. The couple, it says, had been in a previous relationship, during their law school years, that had been rekindled.

Cosgrove's filing also details the photographs at the heart of the matter saying that Lunsford had emailed a nude photograph of herself to Cosgrove and allowed Cosgrove to take pictures of her when she was nude or partially nude. The filing says Lunsford was aware of the photographs he took, did not object to them being taken, reviewed the digital images he'd taken and deleted the ones she considered unflattering, and allowed Cosgrove to keep the images that she considered flattering. The photographs themselves are not part of the records given to NBC29.

There are several documents associated with the September 20 filing by Cosgrove's attorney, including:

  • A September 12, 2013 "Petition for Order of Protection" in which Lunsford spells out her complaint against Cosgrove and asks for a protection and restraining order.
  • An August 26, 2013 letter from the Roach Law Firm on Lunsford's behalf asking Cosgrove to come to an agreement on the matter that will protect her interests and allow the matter to stay out of the public record.
  • A three-page email that appears to be from Lunsford to Cosgrove, dated March 2, 2013, that details intimate parts of their relationship and speaks to her friendship with Chris Dumler, starting with his assistance in her 2007 campaign for commonwealth's attorney and continuing through the period after Dumler was charged with criminal activities.

The paperwork given to NBC29 Wednesday includes allegations that Lunsford carried on a friendship with former Albemarle County supervisor Chris Dumler after he'd been charged with forcible sodomy. It says that after the legal proceedings against Dumler had begun, Lunsford hosted Dumler and his girlfriend at her house, during which Dumler watched an R-rated movie with Lunsford and her children. Cosgrove says this calls into question Lunsford's professional ethics.

Cosgrove's attorney has told NBC29 that the filing from September 20 included some sort of error, and that a revised response has been filed with the court, but details as to the nature of that initial mistake and the new paperwork itself remain unavailable.

Lunsford was elected Albemarle County commonwealth's attorney in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. She is currently in a longstanding relationship with a man in Virginia, and shares the care of children, though the couple have not married.

According to the Associated Press, Cosgrove was then-Gov. Bob Holden's chief legal counsel. Before joining the staff for Holden, a Democrat, Cosgrove was an assistant attorney general in Missouri from 1993 to 1999, then worked for three years as chief consumer protection prosecutor for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, according to his law firm's website.

Note: NBC29 generally posts all relevant court documents as a supplement to our online stories. We are not doing so in this case, at this point in time, because of the deeply intimate details included in the response's associated exhibits.

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