Attorney General Andrew Ketterer today announced that his office had filed a lawsuit under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Casey Belanger, a 19-year old student at the University of Maine (at Orono). The Attorney General's lawsuit alleged that Belanger had made an explicit threat of violence on the campus computer network based upon bias toward gays and lesbians.

The University of Maine maintains a computer network known as "First Class". Users can send and receive e-mail, post personal "resumes" and send and receive messages on so called public conference folders which cover different topics. This fall the Defendant posted his resume on the system which included a statement that he "disliked fags". On October 16, 1997, another student posted his own message on the system questioning Casey Belanger's use of his personal resume. Casey Belanger responded the same day by posting a message on the system and sending it to several public conference folders including the folders for Religion, Politics, Debate, and Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual. The Defendant's message on the computer system included the following statements:

"youd better watch your fucking back you little fuck, im gonna shoot you in the back of the fucking head if I ever see your faggot ass"

Defendant's message was read by numerous people who accessed the various folders on which the message was published. As a result of the message, students, faculty and staff at the University of Maine have been placed in fear of violence from the Defendant. The Attorney General's Complaint seeks a restraining order prohibiting the Defendant from making any further bias motivated threats of violence.

Attorney General Ketterer stated:

"Bias motivated threats of violence have absolutely no place anywhere in society including our universities and colleges."

Attorney General Ketterer expressed his appreciation for the excellent work of the UMO Department of Public Safety in investigating this matter.