State Representative Rady Mom already appeared to be facing a bumpy road to reelection this year after he drew three Democratic primary challengers. But that path is about to get messier for the Lowell lawmaker.
Mom is expected to appear in Woburn District Court on Thursday, where one of his political rivals, Sam Meas, is seeking a harassment protection order against the lawmaker after an incident at a Cambodian restaurant in Lowell two weeks ago when Meas alleges Mom choked him.
Meas, who is also Mom’s former campaign manager, claims that the lawmaker grabbed him by the throat and dug his fist into his rib cage after Meas patted him on the shoulder to greet him at the Pailin City Restaurant. The two men were attending a graduation party for a mutual friend.
In addition to the protection order, Meas said he wants to see criminal assault and battery charges brought against Mom and “taken all the way, whatever punishment is allowed.”
“It happened so fast, lasted about 30 seconds, He was just very angry. He pulled me and said a lot of profanity toward me, and I don’t know why he was so angry,” Meas told the News Service Wednesday.
Mom could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He left the State House immediately following the House’s session in the afternoon, and a message left for his legislative aide was not returned.
Mom was first elected to the Legislature in 2014 following the departure of longtime state representative Kevin Murphy, who left Beacon Hill to become Lowell city manager. Mom’s arrival was heralded as a historic moment as he became the first Cambodian-American elected to the state Legislature in Massachusetts, and possibly the country.
Meas, a former Haverhill Republican who moved to Lowell about three years and changed parties, is one of three Democrats running against Mom this cycle, along with former city councilor and School Committee member Jim Leary and former city councilor Rithy Uong.
Meas and Uong’s presence on the ballot already threatened to divide the Cambodian community in the city, but now that split could grow even wider as a political fight moves into the courtroom.
A hearing on Meas’s application for a harassment protection order against Mom is on the docket in Woburn District Court for 9 a.m. Thursday. The case was transferred from Lowell District Court, and Meas said that if successful, he will ask for limited exemptions so the two men can appear at campaign events together.
The complaint stems from a May 5 graduation party at Pailin City, where Meas told police he approached Mom to say hello, but once he put his hand on Mom’s shoulder, the legislator grabbed and pulled his wrist and then grabbed him by the neck as he pulled down on his tie and shirt collar.
Mom, who is a massage therapist, then proceeded to press his fist into Meas’s ribs and began cursing at him, according to Meas.
Meas filed an incident report with Lowell Police on May 8 and said he is expecting a probable cause hearing for formal criminal charges to be brought against Mom. The Lowell Police Department declined to comment.