Feuding lobstermen compromise

Posted Nov. 13, 2009, at 6:29 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Feuding Tenants Harbor lobstermen were told Friday morning at Knox County District Court to stay away from each other for a year.

Ty Babb, 36, and Craig C. Hupper, 58, and his son Joshua B. Hupper, 27, agreed to a mutual order for protection from harassment after Judge Michael Westcott had them work the details out among themselves.

“The court can’t be very innovative, but the parties can,” Westcott said. “It seems to me that in this type of case, you ought to see if you can resolve it.”

A cooperative resolution did not seem very likely on Oct. 22, when Babb alleged that the Huppers had brandished a shotgun at him when all were fishing two miles out to sea. The incident apparently was the culmination of several weeks of escalating tensions, including accusations from both sides of lobster traps being cut and some alleged verbal hostilities.

“I’ve hardly spoken to them at all for the last 30 years, so it shouldn’t be a big deal,” Babb said of the conditions of the protection from harassment order.

According to the order, Babb and the Huppers are prohibited from “harassing, threatening, assaulting, molesting, attacking or otherwise abusing” each other until Nov. 12, 2010, when the order runs out. They also are prohibited from going onto each other’s property or having direct or indirect contact with each other.

Attorney Philip Cohen of Waldoboro represented the Huppers in court.

“I guess they’re satisfied,” he said of his clients’ reaction to the mutual protection from harassment order.

Cohen had brought with him a sheaf of legal documents which detailed two of Babb’s past criminal charges and convictions, including a 1996 conviction of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. The weapon was a boat, in the original charge.

“Think of it — the Huppers were two miles out,” Cohen said, adding that they were worried about what could have happened to them.

Babb said he also had felt intimidated by the Huppers.

“It felt like a dangerous situation,” he said. “I feel vulnerable here.”

A justice had signed off in October on Babb’s temporary protection from harassment orders against the Huppers. However, Judge Patricia Worth denied the requests for temporary orders from Craig Hupper and Joshua Hupper, in part because she found that the allegations in the sworn complaint were “insufficient” to prove the two were in “immediate and present danger of physical abuse” from Babb.

The shotgun incident is the latest in a string of high-profile troubles for lobstermen in western Penobscot Bay. In July, a Matinicus lobsterman was shot in the neck in an altercation on the island, and in August, three lobster boats were vandalized and two of them sunk in Owls Head harbor.

acurtis@bangordailynews.net

338-3034

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