Soldotna water thrower faces criminal charges

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Criminal charges have been filed against a man who says he was being patriotic when he dumped water on war protesters in Soldotna.

Four misdemeanor charges, including charges of assault and violation of constitutional rights, were filed Monday against Jeff Webster, 44, a Soldotna fishing guide.

Webster, the father of a Marine, has admitted twice pouring buckets of cold water from a passing pickup on the protesters in March and early April. He was originally charged with harassment. The new charges also include an additional harassment charge.

The new fourth-degree assault charge came from another incident, when Webster allegedly pushed and threatened a male protester.

Two other new counts accuse Webster of violating the demonstrators' rights under the Alaska Constitution to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The law says one cannot intentionally injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate another person in an attempt to deprive them of their rights.

Webster said he would plead not guilty to all charges.

I don't regret it. They can charge me with what they want,'' Webster told the Anchorage Daily News.

Webster's lawyer, Wayne Anthony Ross, has argued that the state shouldn't prosecute Webster because he was sticking up for his son, a Marine stationed in Iraq.

Webster produced a video of the second drive-by dousing, set to patriotic music, which was widely distributed through e-mail.

He originally said he would plead guilty. He changed his mind, he said, after friends and strangers urged him to fight the harassment charge in court. Ross, a conservative Republican who has campaigned twice for governor, volunteered his services to defend Webster.

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