Innkeeper says she'll plead not guilty in racially charged assault case

A manager of a New Hampshire inn -- accused of shoving a couple during a refund dispute -- insisted Saturday that she not a racist and plans to plead not guilty to racially motivated assault charges, reports said.

When the couple, identified as Mohamed Ghallami and Chahrazade Mounaji, of Massachusetts, arrived in April at the Covered Bridge Riverview Lodge in Jackson, N.H., they decided they didn't want to stay there and requested a refund on their reservation, the Conway Daily Sun reported.

But the manager, identified as Priscilla Protasowicki, 32, allegedly told them that refunds weren't possible, the report said.

"The woman then asked if we were from a communist country. She looked at my wife and said, 'Is that a hijab?' and asked 'Are you Muslim? Muslims aren't supposed to be here. Are you legal?" Ghallami said, according to an affidavit, MassLive.com reported.

"The woman then asked if we were from a communist country. She looked at my wife and said, 'Is that a hijab?' and asked 'Are you Muslim? Muslims aren't supposed to be here. Are you legal?'"

- Mohamed Ghallami, involved in a dispute with a hotel manager

Protasowicki then allegedly pushed the patrons with her hands and “was substantially motivated to commit the crime because of hostility towards the victim's religion, race, creed or national origin," the indictment said, according to the Daily Sun.

Protasowicki denies that account. She told the Union Leader of Manchester it was an “absurd claim” that she assaulted Mounaji. The innkeeper said she instead was the victim of an assault by Ghallami, whom she alleged grabbed her by the shirt.

Meanwhile, Protasowicki threatened last week to sue the town to remove its police chief, the Conway Daily Sun reported.

"Recently, he (Jackson police officer) had me arrested again for simple assault, after I legally defended myself against a couple of Arabian terrorists who came onto my property causing chaos," Protasowicki's complaint read in part, according to the Sun.

She was indicted July 20 on two misdemeanor counts of simple assault. Her charges are subject to increased penalties under the state's hate-crime law. She also faces civil rights violations.

Despite her indictment, she maintained the her inn is hospitable. 

“We’ve always welcomed everyone, and we always will.”

- Priscilla Protasowicki, innkeeper

“We’ve always welcomed everyone, and we always will,” said Protasowicki, according to the Union Leader. 

Protasowicki was convicted of simple assault in an unrelated case, after a 2011 confrontation with a guest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.