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R.I. Woman Ordered To Stay Away From Gay Neighbor

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R.I. Woman Ordered To Stay Away From Gay Neighbor

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

July 29, 2006 - 11:00 am ET

(Providence, Rhode Island) In the first charge laid by Rhode Island's newly formed Office of Civil Rights Advocate a Providence area woman has been convicted of harassing a gay man with AIDS.

Kenneth Potts turned to the Advocate's office, a division of the Attorney General's Department, after enduring what he calls months of abuse from his upstairs neighbor, Theresa Deschenes.

In court Friday Potts said that he had been subjected to homophobic slurs and a campaign of abuse.

He told Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel that he has called police more than a dozen times to complain about Deschenes. The last time, June 12, he said, there was "excessive music and loud jumping up and down on the floor and obscene names."

Potts said that his problems began shortly after he moved into the apartment building and mention to Deschenes that he was gay and ill. Several days later, Potts said, he received a phone call from Deschenes.

"She said, 'If you do anything to my daughter I'll [expletive] kill you.' I said, 'I'm gay, not a pedophile.' "

Potts said that the stress inflicted on him has had a negative impact on his battle with HIV.

Deschenes' lawyer characterized the dispute as "trivial".

Christopher Millea said was nothing more than "kindergarten name-calling contest" and was constitutionally protected free speech.

Judge Vogel rejected Millea's arguments.

Calling Deschenes' actions "hateful conduct," Vogel issued a restraining order against her, barring Deschenes from having any intentional contact with Potts.

"She has intimidated him ... She has threatened him with physical violence ... all connected to his sexual orientation."

The ruling sets a benchmark for similar cases said Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, who was in the courtroom for the verdict.

©365Gay.com 2006

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