PORTLAND, Maine — A man who allegedly attacked an Asian woman and her child last week will be formally charged with a hate crime under the Maine Civil Rights Act, according to a complaint filed Monday by Attorney General Aaron Frey.
The woman, who is not named in the complaint, was in her vehicle with her 12-year-old daughter waiting for oil service on Forest Avenue when Troy Sprague, 47, and began swearing at her to “go back to your country,” according to the complaint. Sprague, who is white, jumped over a guard rail and began kicking the woman’s partially open window, damaging her side mirror and causing debris to fly into her car and strike her daughter.
“We are bearing witness to an unconscionable increase in hate crimes being perpetrated against individuals of Asian descent across our nation,” Frey said. “We will not tolerate such attacks in Maine, and we will act swiftly to address allegations like those received last week out of Portland.”
The hate crime charge comes after Maine leaders denounced the rise of anti-Asian American sentiment, which has spiked in the U.S. across the last year. Mayor Kate Snyder and members of the city council denounced Sprague’s attack as a hate crime, echoing national outcry after a man fatally shot eight women, six of them Asian, at a string of Atlanta-based spas last Tuesday.
Portland police arrested Sprague on Saturday, for criminal mischief and interfering with constitutional and civil rights. He has been released on bail.
Sprague, who providers say has battled mental health issues and chronic homelessness for years, had been “yelling and screaming at no one in particular” while walking on Forest Avenue before he encountered the woman, according to the complaint. He faces up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The complaint seeks a restraining order against Sprague that prevents him from contacting the woman or her family in the future.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misrepresented what the restraining order against Sprague seeks to do.