August 24, 2001

AUGUST 24, 2001

CONTACT: Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the Maine Superior Court has approved the settlement of a civil rights enforcement action brought against a Portland resident. The Attorney General's lawsuit alleged that on May 6, 2001, the Defendant committed several acts of vandalism by spray-painting racist and anti-Semitic slurs on gravestones in the Mt. Sinai Cemetery, and on houses, businesses, and automobiles in the surrounding area. The Defendant, who was sixteen years old at the time of the vandalism, is now seventeen years old. The Attorney General's Office does not divulge to the public the names of juvenile defendants in Maine Civil Rights Act cases.

With the consent of both parties, the Court issued an order prohibiting the Defendant from engaging in any further violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act and requiring the Defendant to pay restitution to the victims totaling $6,783.00. Violation of the Court's order is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,000.00.

The Cumberland County District Attorney has already prosecuted the Defendant for Aggravated Criminal Mischief under Maine's Juvenile Code. Aggravated Criminal Mischief is a Class C felony if committed by an adult. The Defendant served 40 days in the Maine Youth Center, is on probation for one year, and is receiving counseling in a residential placement.

The Maine Civil Rights Act authorizes the Attorney General to bring an enforcement action against any person who intentionally interferes with the right of another person to engage in lawful activities free from actual or threatened physical force or violence, property damage, or trespass to property motivated by race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, or physical or mental disability.

Attorney General Steven Rowe said, "The desecration of a cemetery through the spray painting of ethnic, religious or other slurs will not be tolerated. My office will take action to prevent the defacement of any property in violation of the Maine Civil Rights Act."

The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the quick and thorough investigation of this matter that was conducted by the Portland Police Department.