May 4, 2012

Protection order issued after lawmakers' breakup

Rep. Erin Herbig of Belfast says she's been stalked and threatened by Rep. Alex Cornell Du Houx of Brunswick.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A female state representative from Belfast has secured a court protection order against another lawmaker, claiming that he stalked and threatened her after the two ended their romantic relationship earlier this year.

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State Reps. Alex Cornell Du Houx and Erin Herbig

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According to the 17-page court document, Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, filed for the protection-from-abuse order in Belfast District Court on Monday. Justice Patricia Worth served the order to Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, on Tuesday.

The order prohibits Cornell du Houx from having contact with Herbig and calls for a hearing May 14 to determine whether the order should be extended.

Herbig, 31, alleges in the document that Cornell du Houx, 29, threatened to “use his military training tactics” to force her to drop complaints against him.

Cornell du Houx, a second-term lawmaker, is a former Marine who served in Iraq. He holds a concealed-weapons permit, and the protection order requires him to temporarily surrender his gun and any other dangerous weapons.

Herbig, a first-term lawmaker, acknowledges in the complaint that she and Cornell du Houx were involved in a romantic relationship in “late 2011 through early 2012.”

After their breakup, Herbig claims, Cornell du Houx stalked her at the State House and sometimes showed up uninvited at her home.

Herbig could not be reached for comment Thursday night. Cornell du Houx did not respond to a request for comment.

In her complaint, Herbig says Cornell du Houx threatened to commit suicide and refused to stop contacting her. She also claims that Cornell du Houx took “disturbing and frightening” videos of her while she was sleeping. Herbig also alleges that Cornell du Houx accessed her personal computer and cellphone to obtain photos, email and text conversations.

She claims that Cornell du Houx threatened to use the photos if she made their dispute public. “He told me that the ‘evidence’ he had would be embarrassing to me if made public and would ruin my reputation,” Herbig says in the complaint.

Herbig, who serves on the Legislature’s Labor Committee, claims that Cornell du Houx would follow her after legislative proceedings and throughout the Capitol facility. She says he once stood outside the Labor Committee meeting room, staring at her through the glass door.

During a legislative event on March 28, she says, Cornell du Houx followed her outside and then used his vehicle to block the exit of a car she was riding in with three other people.

Jodi Quintero, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, said Thursday evening that legislative leadership was made aware of the situation in late February. Quintero said Cain met individually with Cornell du Houx and Herbig.

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, was also contacted. Leadership later advised Herbig to contact Capitol Police and state authorities. Herbig did so, but didn’t pursue legal action until recently.

Quintero said that, without legal action, legislative leaders could not prohibit Cornell du Houx from carrying out his constitutional duties as an elected representative, so he couldn’t be kept off Capitol grounds.

The Legislature’s Human Resources Department later implemented a safety plan to keep the two lawmakers separated.

Quintero said Herbig expressed early on that she was “distressed,” but she didn’t feel physically threatened until recently.

In her statement Herbig wrote, “I have been concerned for my safety for the last several months and am terrified now.”

Cain, in a written statement issued Thursday night, said she “took all the steps within the law to ensure the safety of Rep. Herbig.”

“This is a serious situation and it has been taken seriously since day one,” Cain said. “This has been a very difficult few months for all parties involved.”

Last year, Cornell du Houx and Herbig went to Washington, D.C., for the Young Elected Officials Network. According to her legislative biography, Herbig was married to Josh Povec. Quintero said Herbig was recently divorced.

State House Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@mainetoday.com

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