For Immediate Release - September 23, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Obtains Preliminary Injunction Against Winthrop Man Accused of Provincetown Hate Crime

Defendant Allegedly Assaulted Two Women During May 2009 Attack Because of Their Perceived Sexual Orientation

BOSTON - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office obtained a civil rights injunction against a Winthrop man charged with the May 2009 assault of two women in Provincetown based on their perceived sexual orientation. The order, granted today by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Charles T. Spurlock prohibits Eric Patten from violating the civil rights of the victims and all others in the Commonwealth based upon their actual or perceived sexual orientation. A violation of the injunction is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and two and a half years in a House of Correction, or if bodily injury results from such violation, a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in State Prison.

"Unprovoked attacks cannot and will not be tolerated in Massachusetts. These incidents not only affect the victims, but the community as a whole," said Attorney General Coakley. "Our office remains committed to enforcing the state's civil rights laws to protect residents and visitors to the Commonwealth."

According to the complaint, filed on September 18, 2009, in Suffolk Superior Court, Patten verbally and physically assaulted the two women after approaching them on a downtown street. The complaint alleges that Patten proceeded to make hostile and derogatory remarks about their sexual orientation. As the women attempted to pass Patten on the sidewalk, he began punching one of the victims and then slammed her into the window of a restaurant, shattering the window. According to the complaint, Patten continued his physical assault on the victim while the second victim attempted to subdue him until Provincetown Police arrived. Both victims required treatment at an area hospital for their injuries.

According to the complaint, after police arrived, Patten continued a threatening and derogatory verbal assault and physically resisted arrest. After being warned by arresting officers, Patten continued to be combative throughout the booking process using anti-gay epithets, and kicking and attempting to spit on officers. The Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office is prosecuting Patten for criminal violations.

The Attorney General's Office is seeking relief under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA), which is commonly referred to as the hate crimes statute. Under the MCRA, the Attorney General's Office has the power to obtain an injunction in cases where a victim has faced threats, intimidation, or coercion because of his or her membership in a protected category, for example, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, or because he or she is engaged in a protected activity, such as the right to use public ways or places, the right to vote, or the right to associate.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Adam Hollingsworth of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of Quinton Dale, Chief of the Civil Investigations Division, Ashley Cinelli of the Victim Witness Services Division, and Kimberly Strovink also of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.