SKOWHEGAN — A Penobscot County man has been cited by police following threatening messages sent this week related to a local business owner speaking out about her Pride flag being vandalized.

Police issued a cease-harassment notice to Robert Gray, 62, of Garland, in connection with the threatening voicemail Jessica Stetson, Old Soul Collective owner, recieved on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Stetson reopened her doors on Thursday after closing the day before, fearing for her safety after receiving the voicemail on her personal cellphone.  The Morning Sentinel reporter who wrote about the story also received derogatory and threatening emails, in which the person made bigoted statements and suggested minority groups and those who support them “should all be shot.”

Stetson and the reporter filed separate complaints Wednesday with the Skowhegan Police Department, which led to the notices being issued to Gray.

Stetson said she was shocked when she received the message around 6:30 a.m.

An Old Soul Collective store shopper arrives at the store in downtown Skowhegan on Thursday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Incidents began over the weekend, when Stetson arrived to her downtown business on Saturday and discovered that the Progress Pride flag that had been hanging outside the shop’s front door had been removed and later found, both the flag pole and flag were damaged.


Stetson posted about the incident involving the flag on the store’s Facebook and Instagram pages after making a report with police. Shortly after the posts were made, members of the community stepped up and provided a new flag to Stetson for her business.

Pride Month is celebrated annually, in June, in honor of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.

Stetson is expecting more Progress Pride flags to be delivered over the weekend and is accepting donations for more flags through her store’s website. Others in town have been showing solidarity with Stetson by hanging up Progress Pride flags as well, including Skowhegan Free Public Library Director Angie Herrick, who unfurled one next to an American flag at the downtown library on Thursday. Herrick said she began flying the flag Monday, in response to the vandalism of Stetson’s flag.

Skowhegan Free Public Library Director Angie Herrick unfurls a Pride Flag that is displayed next to an American flag at the library in downtown Skowhegan on Thursday. Herrick said she began flying the flag Monday after the Progress Pride Flag at the Old Soul Collective building was torn from the building. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

The Progress Pride flag is a newer version of the original Pride flag, which includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ communities of color with the pink, light blue and white stripes from the Transgender Pride flag.

Under the cease-harassment notice, Gray is not allowed to have any engagement or conduct “with the intent to harass, torment or threaten” Stetson, effective immediately and in place for a year. Gray is also forbidden from entering Stetson’s vintage boutique at 134 Water St.

In a Facebook Live video Thursday, Stetson thanked the community for supporting her as she was opening up her store.

“It’s been a whirlwind since Saturday, really,” Stetson said in the video. “Thank you for everyone reaching out and all of the well wishes and kind words. I’m out of words, honestly. I’m just feeling very grateful.”

As a result of the Wednesday incident, Stetson relocated her family to a safe location. On Thursday, she said that her family was returning home.

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