CAMDEN, Maine — A 64-year-old Camden man was arrested Wednesday after police said he harassed a family on Facebook.
Charles F. Berry was charged with harassment by electronic device and taken to the Knox County Jail, according to Camden police Detective Curt Andrick. Berry later was released on $260 cash bail.
One of the bail conditions is that he not directly or indirectly contact the victims on social media.
Berry, who also posts on Facebook under the name Bishop Whitecrow, has been harassing the family for more than three years, according to an affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court by Camden police.
The hundreds of comments over the years have been extremely vulgar and obscene, Andrick said. A review of the posts shows references made to using a 12-gauge shotgun and shooting a woman but does not identify the woman.
In fact, Berry does not specifically identify the family members by name in the vast majority of comments he posted on Facebook, according to Andrick. But the detective was able to obtain an arrest warrant for Berry this week based on a photograph of the family Berry posted with his most recent comments.
Among his posts, Berry reportedly stated that if the government shuts him out of the Internet he would take to the road and use his CB to continue broadcasting his comments. He also made disparaging comments about earlier attempts by police to silence him. Berry was charged in 2012 for harassment but that case was dismissed when the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute because Berry had not specified who he was attacking in his posts, according to Andrick.
It isn’t clear from the affidavit why Berry is targeting the family.
The detective said there is a First Amendment right to say things even if they are vulgar and obscene, but that he believes the actions by Berry have gone over the line into criminal conduct. The detective said the U.S. Supreme Court has heard a case in which a man was convicted after using social media to threaten to kill his wife and an FBI agent. The defendant has appealed the conviction and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in December and is expected to rule on the case this summer.
Berry is scheduled to make his initial appearance in Knox County Unified Court on June 8.