AG Coakley slaps civil rights injunction on homophobic neighbor from hell

by Ethan Jacobs

Bay Windows

Thursday January 8, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's office obtained a civil rights injunction Jan. 6 against a Norwood woman for repeated anti-gay harassment of a gay neighbor who lives in the same apartment complex.

"Bias-motivated conduct, such as the harassment and intimidation we allege in this case, are devastating to victims not only because of the immediate physical and emotional harm they cause, but because feelings of fear, anxiety and profound loss of personal security often last far longer than the incident," said Coakley in a statement. "Beyond their impact on individual victims, hate crimes and other forms of bias-motivated activity are very detrimental to communities, and this type of behavior will not be tolerated."

In a press release announcing the injunction Coakley's office details a persistent pattern of harassment by May. In November 2007 May allegedly began spreading rumors that her gay neighbor was a pedophile and sexual predator. Six months later May complained to her landlord after the victim hung a gay pride flag outside his window, and the landlord forced him to remove the flag. May also allegedly shouted anti-gay epithets at the victim on multiple locations within the presence of fellow tenants, and she physically confronted him in the yard of his home. Last August May allegedly made a baseless complaint to Norwood police claiming that the victim had exposed himself to her.

Coakley's office alleged that as a result of the harassment the victim has feared for his safety and has been forced to alter his routine to avoid having contact with May.

The injunction, issued by Norfolk Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh, prohibits Deborah May from threatening or harassing the victim or anyone else in the state based on their sexual orientation, and it also prohibits her from contacting the victim and his family and from coming within 500 yards of his workplace. If May violates the injunction she faces a fine of up to $5000 and up to two-and-a-half years in jail; if May should injure the victim while violating the injunction she would face a steeper penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.

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