Man charged with assaulting TV news reporter

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton Police arrested David Huston, a.k.a. Mitch Pratt, on Thursday for allegedly assaulting a WGME-TV news reporter who had been tipped off about a racist sign placed in Huston’s garage at 8 Fosterville Road.

Huston, 59, who police say uses the alias of Mitch Pratt, was stopped and arrested on Route 114 in Sebago shortly after accosting WGME reporter Steve Roldan as Roldan was doing an on-scene report about the sign, a photo of which had been e-mailed to the TV station on Wednesday. A cameraman caught Huston striding quickly up to Roldan and trying to grab the microphone away from him as Roldan stood in front of a news van parked on the side of 8 Fosterville Road, where Huston lives.

The incident occurred the same day The Bridgton News printed a story about complaints over the anti-Obama sign, which contained a racially-offensive term. Huston told The News the sign was not his, but that he had agreed to set it up inside the garage and agreed with its message. Houston could be seen grabbing Roldan’s necktie and trying to push him after Roldan asked Houston why he had closed the garage door, blocking off the sign.

On the Tuesday two days prior to the arrest, Police Officer Phil Jones responded to a complaint about the sign by a passing motorist, and asked Houston to remove it. In his report, Jones said Houston agreed to remove it, but invoked his First Amendment right to post such a sign on his property.

About an hour before the confrontation with the TV reporter, Bridgton police received a report about another sign hanging in the garage, “saying all police must die at shift change.” On Sunday morning, a caller requested that a police officer be present at the South Bridgton Congregational Church “in case there is a problem with the media.”

Jones’ report also referred to a cloth-padded cross Houston had displayed at the property. Houston told Jones he had “some friends” who asked him to sell the crosses, and that he would continue to do so. Houston denied being a member of the Klu Klux Klan.

Bridgton police determined that Houston had not committed a crime in displaying the sign or selling the crosses, but forwarded the report of the incident to the Portland office of the Secret Service for investigation into possible violations of federal laws against threatening the President of the United States. A call to the Secret Service was not returned by press time.

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