Braintree Woman Accused of Hate Crime Ordered to Stay Away from Victim Under Court Order Obtained by AG Coakley’s Office
Order Obtained Following an Alleged Assault of a Woman on an MBTA Train
DEDHAM – A Braintree woman has been ordered to stay away from a woman that she allegedly verbally assaulted and threatened based on her perceived national origin and religion, under an injunction obtained by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office. Norfolk Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Connors ordered the injunction this week, against Nichola Prince-Alves who is accused of a bias-motivated assault against a passenger on a Red Line MBTA train in January 2012.
The order specifically prohibits Prince-Alves from violating the civil rights of the victim and all others in the Commonwealth based upon their actual or perceived national origin or religion, and prohibits her from approaching within 25 feet of the victim or her family. 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 the House of Correction, or if bodily injury results from such violation, a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in state prison.
“We allege that the defendant engaged in a bias-motivated assault that directly interfered with the victim’s civil rights and ability to safely ride the subway,” said Attorney General Coakley. “No one should fear for their safety because of who they are or how they are perceived.”
According to the complaint filed on March 19, 2012, in Norfolk Superior Court, Prince-Alves targeted a passenger wearing a hijab and speaking Arabic while on a Red Line MBTA train in January 2012. The complaint alleges that Prince-Alves, completely unprovoked, began shouting and swearing at the victim.
According to the complaint, the defendant continued to verbally assault the victim, berating her to “speak English” and to “go back to her own country,” while waving her arms and gesturing in an aggressive and threatening manner toward the victim at close range. The complaint further alleges that after the victim sought help from MBTA employees and the police, Prince-Alves continued to shout and swear at the victim. When the police arrived, Prince-Alves appeared agitated, continuing to wave her arms and shout derogatory statements about the victim’s national origin. When asked if she knew the victim, Prince-Alves responded that she did not, but that they “all look alike.”
The Attorney General’s Office brought this action under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA), commonly referred to as the “hate crimes” statute. Under the MCRA, the Attorney General’s Office may obtain injunctions against individuals who threaten, intimidate, or coerce victims because of their membership in a protected class – race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, for example – or because they are engaged in a protected activity, such as the right to use public ways or places, the right to vote, or the right to associate.
Since taking office in 2007, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office has obtained more than 40 civil rights injunctions on behalf of victims of hate crimes, often working in close collaboration with police departments and District Attorney’s offices throughout the Commonwealth. In addition to the prosecution of cases, the Civil Rights Division actively provides trainings to police officers, school personnel, and community groups to aid in the recognition and understanding of bias-motivated incidents and how to properly respond.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Gabrielle Viator and Erika Rickard of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of Ashley Cinelli of the Victim Witness Services Division, the MBTA Transit Police, and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office. The Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Prince-Alves for criminal violations.