Michael Roylos is facing a civil rights charge from the Maine attorney general after he allegedly hurled a homophobic slur at a woman in a supermarket parking lot in Portland in early July. Credit: Seth Koenig | BDN

A 63-year-old Portland man is facing a civil rights charge after the Maine Attorney General’s office alleged that Michael Roylos used and threatened violence against a 38-year-old lesbian woman in a grocery store parking lot on July 3.

The complaint, dated July 17, was filed in Cumberland County Superior Court, and asks that the court order Roylos to have no contact with the victim or her family and not to violate the Maine Civil Rights Act in the future. It also asks that Roylos be fined up to $5,000.

The victim was pulling into the parking lot at Shaw’s Supermarket at the Northgate Shopping Center in Portland at about 6 p.m. when Roylos, who was walking to his car, accused the victim of driving too fast in the parking lot, the complaint said.

He then allegedly called her an “[expletive] [homophobic slur],” the attorney general’s office said in a press release issued late Friday afternoon.

According to the complaint, the victim replied, “Excuse me?” and Roylos said, “You heard me you [expletive] [homophobic slur].”

When the victim attempted to record Roylos with her cell phone, he physically assaulted her and continued to call her a “[homophobic slur],” the complaint said. The victim was able to extricate herself from Roylos’ grasp and run toward a vehicle with a female driver in it, where bystanders came to her aid.

Portland police issued summonses to Roylos on the day of the incident for aggravated assault, assault, criminal threatening, and interference with constitutional and civil rights, spokesperson Robert Martin said earlier this month. Information on the status of the charges was not available late Friday afternoon.

The threats and assault have caused the victim to fear for her safety, according to the attorney general’s office.

Roylos is the founder of the Sidewalk Buttler, a tobacco receptacle mounted to signposts and utility poles. Roylos installed dozens of receptacles in downtown Portland in 2014 in an unpermitted pilot program that became an informal partnership with the city, according to city spokesperson Jessica Grondin. The city took over the Sidewalk Buttler receptacles in 2018 and has no active contracts with him. Roylos also owned and operated the Spartan Grill, a sandwich shop in Monument Square, which closed in 2014.

“It is appalling and egregious that any person would engage in violence or threats of violence based on homophobia,” Attorney General Aaron Frey said. “My office will not tolerate bias-motivated violence or threats of violence against members of the LBGTQ community.”

It is the second time this month that Frey’s office has filed a civil rights complaint over an alleged hate crime. On July 17, he announced that a complaint had been filed against Tyler Tripp, 23, of Paris in Oxford County Superior Court.

It alleged that on June 27, the 20-year-old victim was walking with a friend along Deering Street in Norway, when a car drove up to the alleged victim and her friend at a high rate of speed. When the victim yelled at the car to slow down, Tripp allegedly pulled over, got out of the car and called her a racial epithet. Tripp then allegedly threatened “to hang her from a tree,” the complaint said. He also told her that she “deserved” to be hanged because of her race.

If a court grants the injunction Frey is requesting and Roylos violates it, he could be charged with a Class D crime.

The 1992 Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits the use of violence, the threat of violence or property damage against any person motivated by that person’s race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation.