Letter carrier wasn’t fired over alleged attack, officials say

By Jessica Bartlett and David Abel
Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff / November 13, 2010

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HINGHAM — A former letter carrier who was allegedly slapped and subjected to a racist rant by a local resident last year was not fired as a result of the incident, as some news media reports suggested, officials at the US Postal Service said yesterday.

Police said the letter carrier, Hugson Jean, 48, of Roslindale, who apparently posted video clips of the incident on YouTube that have been watched by more than 100,000 people, ultimately decided not to press charges against the woman, whom police identified as 60-year-old Erika Winchester.

The videos attracted attention this week on radio talk shows after they were posted on websites including Gawker, The Huffington Post, and The Smoking Gun. Some of the reports suggested Jean was fired as a result of the incident.

Christine Dugas, a spokeswoman for the US Postal Service’s Office of the Southeast New England District in Providence, said Jean was a temporary letter carrier who had been hired to work from February through November 2009.

“His length of employment with the Postal Service had absolutely nothing at all to do with this incident,’’ she said, adding that his supervisor contacted Hingham police after the incident. “It’s not even closely related.’’

Jean could not be reached yesterday, and Dugas declined to give any more information.

Police said the incident occurred on Oct. 13, 2009, and that Winchester was arraigned the next month in Hingham District Court on charges of assault and battery and committing a hate crime.

Jean “informed [police] that the woman had slapped him and made racial slurs to him, and that he had a video of it,’’ said Hingham police Lieutenant Michael Peraino. “Police did speak with Ms. Winchester, who stated she did make the racial slurs and was very remorseful about it. She did deny slapping him.’’

The video appears to show Winchester screaming at Jean after he refused to take back a certified letter she had signed for. She told him it was for her husband, but he said he could not take back a certified letter.

The video shows Winchester calling Jean a thief and using racial epithets. It then appears to show her slapping him.

Peraino said Jean told police he did not want to press charges. But, Peraino, said, “After viewing the video, we decided we had to.’’

At the court hearing last November, Jean’s lawyer said his client did not want charges filed and would not testify against Winchester.

Peraino said the court decided to hold the complaint for one year, and if there were no additional complaints against Winchester, they would dismiss the case.

The Smoking Gun published Hingham police reports showing that Winchester had been previously arrested for drunken driving and for trespassing at a community theater, where she allegedly warned cast members that they would “get it with a machine gun.’’

The report said she also threatened to “chop off’’ the arresting police officer’s genitals.

David Abel can be reached at