For Immediate Release - July 08, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Obtains Final Judgment and Five Year Injunction Against Quincy Man Accused of Hate Crime

DEDHAM - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office has obtained a Final Judgment imposing a five year civil rights injunction against a Quincy man accused of committing a bias-motivated attack on a Quincy resident because of his perceived sexual orientation. The Final Judgment, entered on July 3, 2009, by Norfolk Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Connors, prohibits Jeffrey O'Connor from threatening, intimidating or coercing the victim or anyone else in the Commonwealth on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation. A violation of the injunction is a criminal offense punishable by up to a fine of $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 ten years in state prison.

"We know the uniquely devastating impact that hate crimes have on victims and communities," said Attorney General Coakley. "Our office is committed to enforcing the state's civil rights laws to protect residents and visitors to the Commonwealth."

The Attorney General's lawsuit and the Court's Final Judgment stem from O'Connor's attack on a gay man on February 28, 2008. According to the complaint, filed in Norfolk Superior Court on May 22, 2008, O'Connor engaged in a verbal and physical assault on the victim when he pulled the man out of the passenger side of a car and repeatedly punched him, while using anti-gay slurs. The Norfolk District Attorney's Office prosecuted O'Connor for the actual physical assault.

The Attorney General's Office sought the Final Judgment and the injunction against O'Connor under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA), commonly referred to as the hate crimes statute, which protects the rights of all citizens and visitors to Massachusetts. 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 and public places, the right to vote, or the right to associate.

In addition to protecting the victim and others against harassment, discrimination or coercion, the court order also prohibits O'Connor from communicating with the victim or victim's family or any other persons assisting the police, the Attorney General's Office, or the Norfolk County District Attorney's office in their investigation. The court order also prohibits O'Connor from knowingly going within 500 feet of the victim's home or place of work.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Adam Hollingsworth of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division with the assistance of the Dean Bates of the Civil Investigations Division, Victim/Witness Advocate Ashley Cinelli, and the Quincy Police Department.