AG Files Civil Rights Action Over Racist Assault And Threats On Berwick School Bus

November 22, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed an action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Reginald Theriault, 18, of Springvale, and a second defendant, a 16 year-old Sanford High School student of Acton, as a result of their violent acts and threats against a 13 year-old middle school student based on their biases against his race or color. The complaint was filed in Superior Court in Alfred and requests that the court enjoin Theriault and the 16 year-old defendant from having any contact with the victim and from committing future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act.

The complaint alleges that on March 3, 2005, the defendants and the victim were passengers on a school bus being transported to home and after-school activities. A number of students began directing racial epithets at the victim, who is African American. Defendants Theriault and the 16 year-old youth, who were at the time students at Noble High School in Berwick, called the victim "nigger." They also told racist jokes in the victim's presence, making reference, among other things, to the Ku Klux Klan. At one point during the bus ride, Theriault placed his hands on the victim's seat, leaned over him in a threatening manner, and threatened to commit a violent act against him. The 16 year-old defendant spat on the victim and hit him in the head and chest.

"No child should be afraid to ride the school bus in Maine. This case combines two ugly features: racial bias and adolescent gang behavior," said Attorney General Rowe. "When our efforts at education fail to curb such behavior, my office will bring enforcement actions to protect Maine students from bias-motivated threats and violence by their schoolmates."