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Rand Paul’s million-dollar trial against neighbor begins

Kentucky Republican broke six ribs, injured lungs, and developed pneumonia after being tackled over yard dispute

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has sued his neighbor for $1.5 million for assaulting him in November 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has sued his neighbor for $1.5 million for assaulting him in November 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Rand Paul is seeking a maximum of $1.5 million in damages from his estranged neighbor in a civil trial set to begin in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Monday.

The Kentucky Republican suffered six broken ribs, damaged lungs, and pneumonia after his neighbor of nearly two decades blindsided him with a tackle from behind in November 2017 while Paul was working in his yard in Bowling Green.

The neighbor, Rene Boucher, 61, was sentenced to 30 days in prison last summer after pleading guilty to a felony assault charge.

For the trial that kicks off Monday, Paul is suing Boucher for up to $500,000 in compensatory damages in addition to $1 million in punitive damages.

Paul recently returned from Ontario, where he had surgery to repair a hernia that was related to the assault.

Boucher’s lawyer has characterized the assault as a momentary lapse in judgment for his client, a former anesthesiologist who had no prior criminal record, but silently harbored rage for years over Paul’s alleged practice of piling yard debris along the line separating their properties and leaving it there for weeks.

Paul’s wife Kelley said in in 2017 that the couple hadn’t spoken to Boucher in 10 years.

Boucher had spoken to two members of the Rivergreen Home Owners Association about the eyesore before the attack, he testified last month in a deposition. But he also acknowledged that he never filed a complaint with the Home Owners Association, WBKO reported. 

Even though Paul’s piles of yard debris sometimes did not lie on Boucher’s property, he could see them from his back patio.

Boucher found the pile of tree limbs and other flotsam “unsightly,” according to court documents.

In October 2017, Boucher had a pile of Paul’s branches loaded into portable dumpsters and carried off.

But soon after, other piles appeared — two of them.

Boucher poured gasoline on the woodpiles and incinerated them, giving himself second-degree burns in the process.

When another pile of branches appeared the following month, he snapped.

“When I saw him once again, he was off of his mower, taking branches from that one pile and putting them on the property line to intentionally aggravate me. I lost it and became irate,” Boucher said in his December deposition for the civil case.

Paul’s injuries from the blindside tackle — executed as the senator was taking a break from mowing his lawn to pile up some branches along the property line — forced Paul to miss time in Washington as he recovered.

“He’s lived 60 years without a hiccup,” Matt Baker, Boucher’s attorney, said of his client at his sentencing last year. “This was unfortunately a very bad mistake to have been made. He’s very sorry about it.”

Boucher has already spent his 30 nights in jail and paid a $10,000 fine

Federal prosecutors are appealing the sentencing, instead urging 21 months behind bars for Boucher.

Boucher has denied that the tackle was politically motivated — though some neighbors disputed media reports about the seriousness of the yard battle. If evidence showed it was politically motivated, Boucher would have faced far harsher penalties since Paul is an elected official in the federal government.

A judge slapped Boucher with a temporary restraining order in August after the Pauls said they felt uncomfortable around him.

The motion for that injunction included an affidavit from Kelley Paul, who alleged that multiple encounters with Boucher — including a run-in at the store in which she alleges he stood a few feet away and smirked at her — left her with an eerie feeling.

A judge will determine on Feb. 3 whether Boucher should be subject to a permanent injunction that would bar him from coming within 200 feet of the senator and his family when he is on his property.

Boucher’s attorney has suggested that the Pauls’ request for a permanent injunction is a thinly veiled effort to force Boucher out of the gated community.

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