Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey announced Wednesday that he has filed a civil rights complaint against a Lewiston man accused of threatening to kill a Black woman in a racist voicemail.
Charles Barnes, 45, allegedly left a voicemail for a 32-year-old Black woman on August 30, 2022, saying he was parked outside her apartment and waiting for someone to step outside, threatening that the first person to do so would die. Barnes continued, stating, “I don’t care if it’s her kid, or her, or her boyfriend. I don’t care…I’m killing me a [racial epithet].”
The victim contacted the Lewiston police, leading to Barnes’ arrest on charges of terrorizing. His criminal case is still pending.
Frey didn’t say why the complaint was announced more than seven months after the crime occurred.
In March 2021, Frey filed a civil rights complaint just seven days after a racist attack on an Asian-American woman and her 12-year-old daughter.
In July 2020, Frey filed a civil rights complaint less than one month after a homophobic attack in a Shaw’s parking lot in Portland.
In January 2022, Frey filed a civil rights complaint against a man who allegedly made racist threats less than three months later.
The long time between Barnes’ alleged crime and Frey’s civil rights complaint may have something to do with Frey’s disclosure last week that he cheated on his girlfriend of 12 years with a married subordinate, Ariel Gannon, Child Protection Division Chief at the AG’s Office.
A flurry of negative headlines in the media followed, including a report in the Bangor Daily News that Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) would be investigating Frey’s disclosed misconduct.
Political observers questioned whether Democratic leaders, including Maine Gov. Janet Mills, would call for Frey to step aside following the allegations, but it now appears that top Democrats are standing behind him.
Frey’s complaint under the Maine Civil Rights Act seeks a civil injunction that would prohibit Barnes from having any contact with the victim or her family and prevent him from violating the act in the future.
“The defendant’s statements amount to an outrageous threat of violence against the victim and all persons of color,” said Frey. “My office will take action under the Maine Civil Rights Act to enjoin racist threats that cause fear in our community and to prevent such threats from escalating into acts of violence.”
The Maine Civil Rights Act allows the Attorney General to take legal action against anyone who uses or threatens physical force, property damage, or violence motivated by bias against another person’s race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Violating an order issued under the act is a Class D crime, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.