AG adds 'Hate Crime' to Barrington racism case

Attorney general files 'Notice of sentencing enhancement pursuant to Hate Crimes Sentencing Act'

Posted 8/11/20

On Tuesday morning, the Rhode Island Attorney General filed a “Notice of Sentencing Enhancement Pursuant to the Rhode Island Hate Crimes Sentencing Act” in the matter of State of Rhode …

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AG adds 'Hate Crime' to Barrington racism case

Attorney general files 'Notice of sentencing enhancement pursuant to Hate Crimes Sentencing Act'

Posted

On Tuesday morning, the Rhode Island Attorney General filed a “Notice of Sentencing Enhancement Pursuant to the Rhode Island Hate Crimes Sentencing Act” in the matter of State of Rhode Island v. Richard Gordon, pending in Sixth Division District Court.

On Monday, Aug. 3, the defendant was involved in an altercation with his neighbor. The incident was investigated by the Barrington Police Department and, on Aug. 7, Barrington Police charged Mr. Gordon with simple assault and disorderly conduct.

"Because the crimes of simple assault and disorderly conduct are misdemeanors, as opposed to felonies, they would ordinarily be prosecuted by the Barrington Town Solicitor, without involvement of this Office," stated a press release from the AG's office. "This Office prosecutes all felony offenses committed in Rhode Island, but ordinarily only those misdemeanors charged by the Rhode Island State Police and other state law enforcement agencies. Occasionally, when requested by a municipal police department, the Office will adopt misdemeanor prosecutions brought by cities or towns."

On Friday, Aug. 7, the Barrington Police Department contacted the AG's office and asked for assistance in the continued investigation of this matter.

"This office agreed to provide that assistance," stated the AG's release. "Over the weekend, members of this office reviewed the evidence collected by the Barrington Police Department in connection with this matter. Additionally, on Sunday, Aug. 9, members of this office and the Barrington Police Department interviewed the victim and his wife. Based on this review, this office adopted the prosecution of this case, and filed the aforementioned Notice of Sentencing Enhancement today."

According to Rhode Island General Laws, a misdemeanor charge, such as simple assault and/or disorderly conduct, that has been filed with the Hate Crimes Sentencing Act, would carry a minimum penalty of 30 days mandatory imprisonment, and not more than a year in jail. The defendant would not be afforded "the provisions of filing, suspension of sentence, or probation."

For a simple assault misdemeanor that was not filed with the Hate Crimes Sentencing Act, the penalty is up to 1 year in jail and a fine.

This case remains pending before the Sixth Division District Court.

The charges and the Notice of Sentencing Enhancement are allegations only, and the defendant by law is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

The AG's office said it will not make any further comment on the case.

A number of people posted online comments calling for the case to be handled as a hate crime. Meanwhile Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha and Council President Michael Carroll issued a statement and posted it to the town's website stating: "… the town sought the advice of the RI Attorney General's Office as to whether a hate crime charge was warranted in this instance. The Attorney General's Office determined that the additional charge was not appropriate in this case." 

Mr. Cunha and Mr. Carroll's statement was posted on Friday, Aug. 7.

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