CONCORD — A judge has ruled that a Nashua man violated a transgender woman’s civil rights by threatening to kill her after she used the women’s locker room at a Planet Fitness, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald said Monday.
Marc Bernier, 60, was also issued a one-year injunction ordering him to have no contact with the woman and banned him from the Planet Fitness in Nashua where the confrontation took place on March 17, MacDonald said in a news release Monday. Bernier was issued a $3,000 civil penalty, $2,500 of which was suspended for a year provided he complies with the terms of the injunction, MacDonald said.
Judge Jacalyn A. Colburn issued the ruling Friday out of Hillsborough County Superior Court-Southern Division.
According to court documents, Bernier “repeatedly threatened” to kill the woman after learning she was transgender and had changed in the women’s locker room.
Assistant Attorney General Sean Locke said the case was one of the first for the AG’s Civil Rights Unit since it was launched by MacDonald and Gov. Chris Sununu in December 2017.
“The ruling is a strong indication that the Civil Rights Unit is open, operating and ready and willing to pursue civil rights complaints to the fullest extent that the law provides,” Locke said.
The Civil Rights Unit filed a complaint with the court in July alleging that Bernier violated the New Hampshire Civil Rights Act on March 17 at the Planet Fitness on Northwest Boulevard in Nashua. According to the complaint, Bernier approached the woman after she changed in the women’s locker room and began her workout, asking “Hey, are you a guy or a girl?” The woman responded that her gender was not Bernier’s business, according to the complaint.
Bernier responded it was his business “because my wife changes in that locker room and if I see you going in there again I’ll (expletive) kill you,” the complaint stated.
The woman approached a Planet Fitness employee, who told Bernier that the woman was free to use the women’s locker room and Bernier and his wife could use single-stall options if they preferred, according to the complaint. Bernier again threatened to kill the woman if she continued to use the women’s facilities at the gym, referring to her using male pronouns throughout the outburst, the complaint said.
Bernier repeated the threat to Nashua police, saying if he saw the woman “going in the female’s locker room while his wife was there that he would kill” her, according to the complaint. Police arrested Bernier on a charge of criminal threatening.
Bernier’s attorney, Mark Osborne of the firm Shepherd and Osborne in Nashua, declined comment on the ruling Monday.
Colburn’s ruling on the civil rights violation was unrelated to the misdemeanor criminal threatening charge, which is still pending in Nashua District Court.