AG Sues Vinalhaven Man Over Racist Threats On Ferry

June 24, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed court papers under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Steven Wadleigh, 40, of Vinalhaven. The State alleges that, on April 20, 2005, Wadleigh approached a 33-year-old African American man while boarding the ferry between Rockland and Vinalhaven, and directed racial epithets at him. Rockland police responded and warned Wadleigh to refrain from harassing the victim. Despite the warning, Wadleigh continued to direct racial epithets at the victim after the ferry got under way to Vinalhaven, and threatened the victim that Wadleigh or his friends would do harm to him. Wadleigh then became physically aggressive and put his fists up toward the victim, who pushed his fists away. Crewmen broke up the resulting altercation, and the ferry was turned back to Rockland, where Wadleigh was arrested. After being taken into custody Wadleigh continued to make threats against the victim and express statements indicating his racial bias. Wadleigh and the victim had not been acquainted with each other prior to Wadleigh's harassment of the victim.

"Everyone has the right to ride Maine's ferries in peace, without threat of harassment or violence," said Attorney General Rowe. "This victim was singled out because of his skin color. The State of Maine will not stand for it." The action is filed in Knox County Superior Court and seeks an injunction against Wadleigh, prohibiting him from any contact with the victim in the complaint and from engaging in any future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act. The Rockland Police Department investigated the complaint, along with a detective from the Attorney General's Office.