Attorney General Seeks Injunction Against Turner Man for Bias- Motivated Assault

April 26, 2012

AUGUSTA ? Attorney General William J. Schneider announced that a complaint was filed on April 24, 2012 in Androscoggin County Superior Court under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Ronald Champagne, age 50, of Turner.

The complaint alleges that on March 22, 2012 Champagne targeted a 60 year old man who was parked at the causeway boat launch on Route 4 in Auburn. The victim had stopped briefly at the causeway to adjust items in the back of his vehicle after leaving his evening shift at work around 11:00 p.m. According to the complaint, Champagne drove up to the victim?s car in his Cadillac, called him a homophobic epithet and threatened to ram him into the lake. The victim turned his car toward Auburn and Champagne pursued him at a high rate of speed. The victim dialed 911 from his cellular phone and during the call Champagne rammed the victim?s car. Champagne rammed the victim?s car a second time with such force that the phone flew out of the victim?s hand.

?We allege that the defendant engaged in a bias-motivated assault that directly interfered with the victim?s civil rights and ability to safely travel on our public roadways,? said Attorney General Schneider. ?No one should be placed in physical danger because of who they are or how they are perceived.?

Under the Maine Civil Rights Act, the Attorney General?s Office may obtain injunctions against individuals who use physical force or violence or the threat of physical force or violence motivated by bias against race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, and physical or mental disability. Violations of those injunctions are Class D crimes punishable by up to 364 days in jail.

The Attorney General?s lawsuit seeks an injunction prohibiting Champagne from having any contact with the victim and from violating the Maine Civil Rights Act in the future.

Since 1992 the Maine Attorney General?s Office has obtained more than 200 civil rights injunctions on behalf of victims of hate crimes, often working in close collaboration with police departments and District Attorney?s offices throughout the state. There have only been eight criminal violations of these civil rights orders, all resulting in significant jail sentences.

In addition to the prosecution of cases, the Attorney General?s Office provides training and support to student civil rights teams in schools across Maine through the Civil Rights Team Project. The CRTP currently has student civil rights teams in approximately 200 schools and works to reduce the incidence of bias-motivated harassment and violence in schools and communities.

This case was investigated by the Auburn Police Department, the Androscoggin County Sheriff?s Department, and Attorney General Schneider?s Investigations Division. Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin is handling this matter for Attorney General Schneider?s Criminal Division.