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Ashland doctor arrested in Jan. 6 insurrection probe; allegedly punched a police officer

Dr. Jacquelyn Starer, 68, of Ashland was arrested Tuesday and accused of punching a police officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.FBI

ASHLAND -- An Ashland doctor was arrested Tuesday at her home and accused of punching a police officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, authorities said.

Dr. Jacquelyn J. Starer, 68, made her initial appearance Tuesday in US District Court in Boston on charges of felony civil disorder; assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds.

She was released on conditions including that she remain in the continental United States, surrender her passport, and stay away from Washington, D.C., except to attend court hearings. Her next hearing in federal court in Washington is slated to be held via video conference on Dec. 27.

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“We’re going to evaluate the case and go from there,” Starer’s lawyer, Daniel Cappetta, said to reporters outside the courthouse.

He declined further comment.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in the case, video footage shows Starer entering the Capitol with other rioters at 2:51 p.m. Police body camera footage later captured Starer as she allegedly struck a Metropolitan Police Department officer inside the building, the affidavit said.

The officer, identified in court papers as Officer M.B., told investigators that a blonde woman wearing a red hat and jacket, later identified as Starer, “punched her in the left side of her head,” the affidavit said. Starer’s hair was jet black in court Tuesday, and her husband was in the courtroom.

Starer and her husband declined to comment outside the courthouse.

“Officer M.B. stated that the blonde woman came at her again, and Officer M.B. struck the woman in response,” the filing said. “During her interview, Officer M.B. recognized the blonde woman who hit her at timestamp 14:59:28 in footage taken from her body worn camera.”

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Jacquelyn Starer is highlighted in a screengrab from video during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.FBI

Authorities also spoke with a tipster who said Starer bragged to a mutual acquaintance before the insurrection that she was headed to Washington and “prepared” for the march by bringing “a mesh knife-proof shirt and bottles of pepper spray,” the affidavit said.

At Starer’s home on Tuesday evening, a handwritten sign posted on the door read, “Do not ring or knock. Please leave the property.”

Some neighbors said they were not aware of Starer’s politics. There were never campaign signs in her yard or other outward indications of her allegiances. Most expressed shock at her arrest.

John and Vernell Givhan, who have lived down the street since 1988, said Starer had moved into her home a short time later when the neighborhood was still newly developed. They never talked politics and would only say, “‘Hi, how are you doing?’ and talk about stuff in the neighborhood,” Vernell Givhan said.

“There was nothing I was worried about,” she said. “They were regular people across the street from us.”

“We’re a small neighborhood here,” said Jon McAuliffe, who said he has lived in the neighborhood since the mid 1990s. “We are — as far as I know — largely Democratic, so that’s why that surprised me,” McAuliffe said. “They seem to be very nice people.”

Another neighbor, who declined to give his name, said his daughter saw police cruisers outside Starer’s home, but he assumed they were arresting a “porch pirate” who had been stealing packages in the area.

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“Jackie has been a good neighbor,” he said. “Her husband, Chuck, is a really nice guy who I’ve interacted with quite a bit. … It’s rare that I have spoken to Jackie.”

The man said he was “flabbergasted” that Starer, a physician, had been accused of violence.

“She’s a pacifist, as far as I can tell,” he said.

Starer, a specialist in addiction medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, was first licensed to practice in Massachusetts in 1983, according to her state Board of Registration in Medicine profile. The board “has no record of felony or serious misdemeanor convictions regarding Dr. Starer,” nor has she ever been disciplined by the board, the profile says.

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1979 and has served as president of the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine. She has also been affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, according to the profile.

“Per hospital policy, the only information we are able to share is employment status,” the hospital said in a statement. “This individual was a per diem employee who is no longer active at our organization.”

Starer holds Austrian citizenship in addition to US citizenship, prosecutor Craig E. Estes said in court.

The FBI’s Boston division, which covers Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, has arrested 19 people on charges related to the breach of the US Capitol, an agency spokeswoman said. Close to 900 people have been arrested in connection to the attack, and more than 270 have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, officials said.

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The attack erupted after Donald Trump, in the waning days of his presidency, gave a fiery speech urging his supporters to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol.

The rioters were seeking to disrupt the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Lawmakers were whisked away to an undisclosed location during the tumult and returned later that night to certify Biden’s win. Five people died in the attack or in its immediate aftermath, and scores more were injured, including at least 140 members of law enforcement who were harassed, beaten, and sprayed with gas substances.

In an unprecedented move, the House Jan. 6 committee on Monday referred Trump to the Justice Department for possible prosecution of crimes related to the insurrection. Trump has denied wrongdoing and is seeking reelection in 2024.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Bailey Allen can be reached at bailey.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @baileyaallen.