Couple charged with racism leaves Milford as directed 
  By HEATHER O'NEILL       oneill.connpost@snet.net        Tuesday, July 18, 2000

MILFORD - The New Haven Avenue home of Wilfred and Michele Chaisson stood empty on Monday, the deadline for the couple to be out of town under a Superior Court judge's order. 

               The two, who are moving to a new home in another town, were told by
               a judge to be out by Monday, even if the closing on the new property
               had not taken place. The Chaissons, a white couple, have been charged
               several times with bias crimes following accusations that they harassed
               their biracial neighbors. 

               Judge Karen Nash Sequino ordered the Chaissons to hasten their move
               out of town as a condition of remaining free on bond. 

               The family claiming to have been victimized by the Chaissons watched
               the couple pack their things into moving vans and leave the property
               over the weekend. 

               "I have my doors open today and I do feel a little bit better now that
               they are gone," said one of the victims, whose name is being withheld by
               the Connecticut Post. 

               "There is still some fear though - especially at night - because with
               people like that, you never know what they are going to do next, even if
               they don't live next door." 

               The Chaissons, both 42, have been arrested several times since last fall
               following incidents involving their neighbors. 

               The Chaissons maintain that the charges are unfounded and that any
               rancor between the neighbors stemmed from a dispute over a common
               driveway between their properties. 

               In November, both Wilfred and Michele Chaisson were charged with
               intimidation based on bias or bigotry, breach of peace, threatening and
               four counts of risk of injury to a minor. Police say they used racial
               epithets in addressing the victims and their two children. 

               Michele Chaisson was arrested again four days later and was accused of
               using obscene hand gestures toward the neighbors. 

               In April, the couple was again arrested and charged with intimidation
               based on bigotry or bias after police say they harassed their neighbors'
               children and niece when they encountered the children at a local
               take-out restaurant. 

               In June, Michele Chaisson was arrested a fourth time on a warrant and
               charged with two counts of breach of peace. 

               During the course of the court proceedings related to the charges, a
               judge ordered that a fence be erected between the properties of the
               two families. 

               The Chaissons - who have posted tens of thousands of dollars in bonds -
               have twice avoided jail time when the state sought to have their bonds
               revoked. 

               Earlier this month, Sequino ordered the couple to move out of their home
               - which was already on the market - rather than force the couple to
               spend time in jail until their cases are settled. 

               The arrests sparked concern about racism in Milford and was the impetus
               for the creation of the Anti-Hate Task Force by a group of concerned
               citizens. 

               Led by the Rev. Paige Besse-Rankin of the Woodmont United Church of
               Christ, the group meets to discuss racial issues and will hold an ethnic
               diversity celebration later this year. 

               Calls to the Chaissons' attorney, Harold Resnick, were not returned
               Monday. 

               Heather O'Neill, who covers Milford and Superior Court, can be reached at 878-2130.