For Immediate Release - November 10, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Obtains Preliminary Injunction Against Men Accused of Racially Motivated Assault

DEDHAM - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office obtained a civil rights injunction against two men charged with viciously beating an African-American man in a racially motivated assault in Milton. The order, granted yesterday by Norfolk Superior Court Judge Patrick F. Brady, prohibits Scott Bierlich, of Braintree, and Robert Clarke, of Milton, from violating the civil rights of the victim and all others in the Commonwealth based upon their actual or perceived race. 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, racially motivated attacks like this 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 November 2, 2009, in Norfolk Superior Court, Bierlich and Clarke engaged in a racially motivated attack against an African-American man in July 2009. The complaint alleges that while walking home, the victim heard the defendants shout racial epithets and use threatening language as they left the porch of Clarke's residence in Milton. Following the verbal assault, Bierlich and Clarke allegedly ran toward the victim wielding sticks and began beating the victim, damaging his cellular phone, shattering his watch off his wrist, and hitting him in the head with a wooden stake causing a large open wound and profuse bleeding. The Commonwealth alleges that the defendants continued to shout obscenities and racial epithets at the victim throughout the physical assault. According to the complaint, one of the defendants halted his attack because he was afraid they were killing the victim, at which time the victim ran from his attackers and sought refuge at a nearby house. The Norfolk District Attorney's Office is prosecuting Bierlich and Clarke for the criminal acts.

As a result of the attack, the victim sustained a serious head wound that required multiple staples to close. The victim also received treatment for multiple bruises and lacerations.

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.

Assistant Attorney General Adam Hollingsworth of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division is prosecuting this case.