AUBURN — The Maine Attorney General’s Office is seeking a preliminary injunction against a Turner man claiming he threatened a Greene man parked at a local boat launch because he thought the man was gay.

Ronald P. Champagne, 50, is accused of targeting 60-year-old Paul Groleau who was parked on the night of March 22 at the causeway boat launch on Route 4, according to Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin in a civil suit filed Wednesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Groleau had pulled his vehicle into the parking lot briefly after leaving his shift at his job locally at about 11 p.m. to adjust some items in the back of his vehicle. Champagne drove up to Groleau’s vehicle in a Cadillac and used homosexual slurs.

As Groleau left the lot, Champagne apparently followed in his Cadillac. Groleau called 911 on his cellphone to report the incident. During the call, the Cadillac rammed Groleau’s vehicle twice, the second time dislodging the cellphone from Groleau’s hand, the suit says.

A deputy at the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office found Champagne and his Cadillac at his Turner home. Damage to the front end of the Cadillac was consistent with the reported ramming of Groleau’s vehicle, the suit says.

As officers from Auburn Police Department took Champagne to Androscoggin County Jail, he “spontaneously made several comments about the ‘queers’ and the Auburn Police Department’s problems with them on the causeway. He asserted that he was not about to bring ‘his girl’ to watch the sunset ‘because of all the queers,’ ” according to court documents.

“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,” Attorney General William Schneider said in a written statement. “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 Maine Attorney General’s Office can seek injunctions against people 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 state’s lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction that would bar Champagne from having any contact with the victim and from violating the Maine Civil Rights Act in the future.

Law enforcement authorities arrested Champagne on a misdemeanor charge of violation of condition of release and summoned him to court on a charge of misdemeanor assault and a felony charge of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, Robbin said Thursday.

A spokesman at the District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that his office was not moving forward with the criminal charges due to insufficient evidence. The charges were being forwarded to the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

The Sun Journal was unable to reach Champagne for comment Thursday.

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