A Plymouth woman has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly punching a 14-year-old girl in the head after she saw the teenager walking on a town sidewalk in the traditional clothing of her religious group, police said.
Erin Monaghan, 25, was arraigned Tuesday in Plymouth District Court on charges of assault and battery, a civil rights violation, and marijuana possession, police said.
The alleged assault occurred at about 7:30 p.m. Monday when Monaghan was driving down Sandwich Street and passed the girl, her mother, and two siblings, all of whom are members of Twelve Tribes, a small Christian group founded in Tennessee in the 1970s, police said.
Monaghan then allegedly left her car, approached the girl, and asked where she was going, police said. The girl responded that they were walking home, and Monaghan allegedly began punching her in the side of the head, leaving bruises on her ear, said police.
The girl, identified by WHDH-TV as Aremah Delabreure, told the station yesterday that her attacker said, ” ‘You are a disgrace to God’ and then just started punching me. And then, so, I was, like, trying to beat back, but I couldn’t. She was really big. Maybe she thought we were part of some cult or something.”
Plymouth Police Chief Michael E. Botieri said he considers the incident ”very serious. There’s no place for hate here. We don’t tolerate this kind of behavior at all.”
Monaghan pleaded not guilty and was released; she did not return calls yesterday. Neither prosecutors nor the police yesterday knew the terms of her release.
It was not the first time members of Twelve Tribes have been harassed, members said.
Members of the group, who wear plain, modest clothing and live communally throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Australia, according to the group’s website, first moved to Plymouth about four years ago, said Kevin Gadsby, who described himself as the community coordinator of about eight families in town.
Since then, they have had rocks and obscenities hurled at them, he said.
The group even hosted a community forum at a local school to discuss their beliefs, he said.
But he described the beating as the worst attack so far. He said the girl, whose first name means prudence in Hebrew, had a swollen ear but was not seriously injured.
The girl’s mother, Tamara Delabreure, told WHDH-TV that she felt violated. ”Just to see my daughter being treated like that, like, it’s just, the evil, just evil being manifested like that,” she said.
”The attack causes us to wonder what people hear about us, what would cause someone to react so violently to a 14-year-old girl,” Gadsby said. ”Anyone would be alarmed to hear about something like this. It brought tears to my eyes.”