September 10, 2013

Civil rights charge filed over Maine threat tied to race

The attorney general says a Windham man made 'hateful' comments to a black woman in Portland.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A Windham man faces a civil rights charge after allegedly threatening a woman because she is black, according to the Maine Attorney General's Office.

Attorney General Janet T. Mills issued a statement Tuesday saying her office had filed a civil rights complaint against Justin Boucher, 30, in Cumberland County Superior Court.

The complaint seeks an injunction to prevent Boucher from having contact with the woman or from violating the Maine Civil Rights Act. If the complaint is upheld, a future violation could lead to criminal penalties.

The complaint says an African-American woman was driving near outer Congress Street in Portland on April 16 when Boucher pulled up beside her at a traffic light, called her a racial slur and told her to learn to drive.

At the next traffic light, Boucher again pulled his vehicle up beside her, got out of his car and this time yelled, "I should hang you up in that tree behind you, over there where you belong!" according to the Attorney General's Office.

The woman was afraid and drove through a red light to get away from the man.

The Maine Civil Rights Act is designed to protect people from threats of violence or property damage based on their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation.

"The words and actions attributed to Mr. Boucher echo the frightening acts of the Ku Klux Klan in years past," Mills said in the news release. "Fifty years after the March on Washington and Rev. Martin Luther King's historic and inspiring speech, the state of Maine simply will not tolerate such hateful, intolerant acts.

"We abhor these actions as a people, and we intend to send a message to those who would bully, intimidate or threaten our citizens with hate-based words and actions," Mills said. "We will ensure that our state is a welcoming place for people of all races, religions, national origins, orientations and abilities."

Boucher has 21 days to respond to the complaint. No court date has been set.

Boucher could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Last weekend, Westbrook police detained Boucher on suspicion of shoplifting at Kohl's Department Store on Main Street. He was charged with theft by unauthorized taking, and with violating bail conditions from an earlier arrest.

Boucher's criminal history includes a conviction for domestic violence assault in 2011, disorderly conduct and drunken driving in 2004, criminal mischief in 2003 and drug trafficking in 2002, according to the Attorney General's Office.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@mainetoday.com

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