September 3, 2013

Maine woman gets charged in spit assault

A cellphone tower opponent allegedly spits at a selectman outside a Planning Board meeting.

By RACHEL OHM Morning Sentinel

STARKS — A woman who opposes construction of a cellphone tower near her home faces an assault charge after allegedly spitting into a selectman's face last month.

click image to enlarge

In this file photo from July 15, abutting landowners, from left, Elizabeth Smedberg and Harry and Cindy Brown, were expressing their concern about a proposed cellphone tower on Abijah Hill Road in Starks. Cindy Brown has since been charged with assault for allegedly spitting on a selectman.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Since the tower proposal was brought to the Planning Board in June, it has divided the town of about 640 people.

Cindy E. Brown, 53, of Starks was summoned Saturday, accused of spitting into the face of First Selectman Paul Frederic on Aug. 21 outside a Planning Board meeting, said Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Dale Lancaster.

Deputies responded to a report of a disturbance at the meeting, at which the board approved a building permit for the tower, Lancaster said.

Brown and her husband, Harry Brown, have opposed construction of the tower, which would be about 700 feet from their home. Selectmen have endorsed the tower, saying it would provide better emergency response service, communication and Internet service in town.

The alleged assault on Selectman Frederic is just one incident that shows the range of emotional reactions people have had to the tower.

Brown said Tuesday that she had no comment on the assault charge, although she has said she doesn't remember the incident happening.

According to Frederic, 70, he spent most of that day harvesting hay on his farm, stopped at the meeting to see how it was going, and was leaving about 8 p.m. On his way out, he stopped to talk to a resident, he said, and then Brown spit into his face in the Town Office hallway.

He said she never said why she spit at him but given discussions they've had, he thinks it was related to the selectmen's position on the cellphone tower, which they publicly endorsed in a town newsletter.

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

rohm@mainetoday.com

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