Department of Justice SealDepartment of Justice
Thursday, September 4, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Pennsylvania Man Charged for Threatening African-American Coworker with a Hangman’s Noose

PHILADELPHIA - Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker, and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Laurie Magid announced the filing of a one count criminal complaint charging William Gould with interference with employment by threat of violence, a Class A misdemeanor. The complaint alleges that Gould placed a hangman’s noose in an area where his African-American colleague would find it, in an attempt to interfere with his colleague’s federally protected employment activity, and because the colleague was African-American.

The complaint alleges that on Aug. 11, 2008, Gould fashioned and placed a hangman’s noose in a workspace at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he worked. Approximately two weeks earlier, Children’s Hospital had announced the acceptance of that African-American colleague into a management training program specifically focused on hiring and promoting minority employees. Gould, an electrician at Children’s Hospital, had reportedly complained about the program on numerous occasions to co-workers and to hospital executives, allegedly saying he found the program unfair.

According to the affidavit, the victim was alone and isolated when he found the hangman’s noose. He immediately felt intimidated and perceived the noose as representing the lynching of African-Americans. In the aftermath of the incident, the victim became fearful for his own safety and the safety of his family. The victim described how the incident made him cautious in his work environment.

A complaint is an accusation. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie E. Babb and Eric L. Gibson, an attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.