EASTON, Pa. – A neighbor accused of harassing and using racial epithets against a black Pennsylvania family for years has been sentenced to prison.
A Northampton County judge sentenced 45-year-old Robert Kujawa to the term Friday after a jury convicted him of ethnic intimidation, harassment and stalking, the (Allentown) Morning Call reported.
Prosecutors said Kujawa hung Confederate flags in the windows of his Bethlehem Township home, but only those facing the black family's residence, and used a racial slur against the woman and her son when they were in the backyard. Kujawa's attorney denied his client, who is white, used the slur.
Family members said the man used a pellet gun to shoot out their outdoor lights and damage their furniture.
Judge Jennifer Sletvold noted that Kujawa was convicted of harassment of the family in 2015 and the following year admitted to reckless endangerment.
"Over the course of many years, Mr. Kujawa robbed this family of their peace," Sletvold said.
Kujawa apologized Friday, saying he is losing his home to foreclosure and he intends to leave the state once his 10th-grade daughter graduates.
"I'm really remorseful," he said. "I'm really sorry that it got to this point."
Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis said Kujawa's prosecution ends a long ordeal for the family, who he praised for their restraint in turning to police. Family members said they bought a security system, lighting and a fence but were afraid to allow their sons to play in the yard.
For an ethnic intimidation conviction, authorities must show that a defendant committed a separate offense — in this case, stalking — for bigoted reasons. The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing indicates that in 2014 and 2015, just 22 adults were convicted statewide.
Information from: The Morning Call, http://www.mcall.com