Belfast lawmaker gets protection order against Brunswick legislator after breakup

Posted May 03, 2012, at 5:10 p.m.
Last modified May 04, 2012, at 10:37 a.m.
Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx
Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx
Rep. Erin Herbig
Rep. Erin Herbig

BELFAST, Maine — A Maine legislator whose romantic relationship with another lawmaker ended earlier this year claims her former boyfriend has stalked, harassed and threatened her.

Rep. Erin Herbig, a first-term Belfast Democrat, has secured a protection from abuse order against Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, a two-term Democratic member of the Maine House of Representatives from Brunswick.

The temporary order was granted by Judge Patricia Worth in Belfast District Court on April 30 and served on Cornell du Houx by Brunswick police the next day. A May 14 hearing is scheduled to determine if the order should be continued. Under the terms of the temporary order, Cornell du Houx is prohibited from having any contact with Herbig and from being present at her residence.

Herbig noted in court documents that Cornell du Houx, 29, is a U.S. Marine who has a concealed weapon permit and has claimed to have killed people while serving. The order required him to surrender any firearm or dangerous weapon that he owned or possessed.

In recent weeks, Herbig claimed, Cornell du Houx threatened “to use his military training tactics” to get her to drop her complaints about him. On his website, Cornell du Houx said he patrolled the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, while deployed there in 2006.

In her written statement supporting her request for the protection order, Herbig, 31, alleges that Cornell du Houx has stalked and harassed her in her public and private life for the last two months. Much of the alleged harassment occurred at the State House.

Legislative leadership intervened, with House Minority Leader Emily Cain meeting with Cornell du Houx to warn him to not have any contact with Herbig. The warning improved his behavior for a short time only, Herbig said.

Jodi Quintero, a spokeswoman for Cain, said Thursday that Cornell du Houx met with the minority leader in late February or early March about the couple’s breakup. Herbig then met with Cain, who recommended she contact capitol police and state police about Herbig’s concerns, which she did. The Legislature’s human resources department also was made aware of the situation, and a workplace safety plan was adopted.

Responding to a telephone request for comment, Cornell du Houx sent an email to the Bangor Daily News: “We lived together for almost a year and were engaged to be married and I have the highest respect for Erin. Her statement is completely false. This is a personal matter between Erin and myself over an engagement that sadly did not work. This is just a messy breakup of a loving couple.”

Herbig referred a request for comment to her attorney, Chris MacLean, who issued a statement on her behalf: “As you can imagine, this is a difficult situation for anyone to be in and at this time we’re hoping people respect Rep. Herbig’s privacy.”

In her written statement in the court documents, Herbig claimed that on March 28, Cornell du Houx followed her out of a legislative event and when she got into a car with three others, he moved his car to prevent them from leaving.

In late April, Herbig contacted Speaker of the House Robert Nutting about Cornell du Houx’s behavior.

In the statement, Herbig said the romantic relationship began in late 2011 and continued through the early part of this year. After ending the relationship with Cornell du Houx, Herbig claims he threatened suicide and refused to stop contacting her after she asked him to do so.

“He started randomly showing up in Belfast, even when I asked him not to come,” Herbig wrote. “He has entered my apartment without my permission and left personal items of his scattered throughout the apartment so that I would know he had been there.”

Herbig wrote that she learned that Cornell du Houx “had taken over 100 photographs and videos of me without my knowledge, including when I was sleeping… Many of the photographs and videos are highly disturbing and frightening.”

She wrote that Cornell du Houx admitted to taking the photos and videos, and when she ended the relationship, he referred to it as “evidence” which he threatened to make public to embarrass her.

Herbig also claims that in mid-February she discovered that Cornell du Houx “had accessed my cellphone without my permission and taken at least 89 photos, which I am aware of, of text conversations I had had with others. He had also broken into my computer, taken screenshots of online conversations with others, and forwarded them to himself. He also forwarded several of my personal emails to himself.”

She wrote: “His actions made me feel unsafe to the point that I stopped staying at my apartment almost entirely and now I never stay there by myself.”

After the breakup, the alleged harassment then spilled over into the State House, Herbig claimed.

“He followed me around [and] would try to prevent me from walking by … in the hallway,” she wrote. “When I would rise to leave the chamber he would follow me out. He stood outside my committee room and stared at me through the glass door.”

In the capital, he “would hold his cellphone up in my direction and appear to be taking photos or videos of me,” she wrote. At legislative meetings, “he would stare at me to the point that other people who did not know of our previous relationship would [ask] why he was acting that way.”

Herbig wrote that Cornell du Houx would insert himself into conversations she had with others and “followed me into the parking lot when I went to leave.”

A co-worker told her he observed Cornell du Houx “spend the entire day viewing photographs of me on his computer.”

Herbig claimed that after the breakup, Cornell du Houx continued to contact her through emails, postal mail, texts, phone calls and “packages delivered to me in the House chamber via legislative pages.” He also emailed, called and texted her friends, family and co-workers, she said.

Herbig concluded her statement noting, “I have been concerned for my safety for the last several months and am terrified now.”

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