A neighbor of Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) has agreed to plead guilty in federal court in a November attack that left the nation's best known libertarian with six broken ribs and briefly sidelined him during debate over the tax overhaul, according to court documents.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana announced Friday that Rene Boucher, 59, would face a count of assaulting a member of Congress after becoming angry when he saw Paul stack more brush on a pile near his yard. Court documents say Boucher intends to enter a guilty plea.
Police said Boucher charged and tackled Paul, 54, in the yard of his Bowling Green, Ky., home on Nov. 3. Boucher had previously been charged with a misdemeanor in a county court and had pleaded not guilty.
Paul's office and an attorney for Boucher could not immediately be reached for comment.
The assault in an upscale gated community drew widespread media attention and generated a political mystery, since Paul and Boucher have personally offered few clues about what sparked one of the worst assaults on a sitting senator in decades.
In late November, Boucher's attorney, Matthew Baker, told the Washington Post there was no political motivation for the assault and it was tied to simmering disagreements between the successful doctors about the maintenance – "or lack of it" – of their adjacent properties.
Kelley Paul, the wife of the senator, dismissed that explanation in a November op-ed for CNN and Rand Paul said the motivation was beside the point in a Jan. 7 interview with Face the Nation.
"I think one of the things about motivations is people got obsessed, some in the media, about the motivations. But I think really we usually don't ask if someone's raped or mugged or whatever why the person did it," Paul said.
Baker said in November Boucher and Paul didn't see eye-to-eye over the care of grass, trees and other aspects of their lots. He said those old animosities were triggered by a fresh incident on the afternoon of Nov. 3 that he declined to detail.
Paul said in a Fox News interview in early December he was blindsided by the attack.
"I was working in my yard with my earmuffs on – you know, to protect my hearing from the mower – and I had gotten off the mower, facing downhill, and the attacker came running full blown," Paul said. "I never saw him, I never had conversation – in fact, the weird thing is, I haven't talked to him in 10 years."
Kentucky State Police said they were called to Paul's house around 3:20 p.m. on Nov. 3. A police report on the incident indicates Boucher admitted going on Paul's property and tackling him.
Police said Paul initially refused medical care, thinking his rib injuries were not so severe. He was eventually treated after the extent of the injuries became apparent. Boucher was charged with fourth-degree assault in Kentucky's Warren County.
"He is profoundly regretful," Baker said of his client in November. "He wishes this had never happened."
Baker confirmed Boucher hadn't talked with Paul in years, saying the pair had lapsed into a stony silence about the landscaping issues.
Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist, and Paul, an ophthalmologist, had lived next door to each other in the Rivergreen community for 17 years and had once worked at the same hospital. Boucher's gabled house sits on a corner lot across an expanse of grass and trees from Paul's red brick colonial.
Bill Goodwin, an acquaintance of both men, said he arrived at their properties about a decade ago as the men were finishing a dispute. Boucher told Goodwin that Paul had blown lawn clippings onto his yard and it angered him.
" 'I ask him, I tell him and he won't pay attention,' " Goodwin recalled Boucher saying after the argument. " 'One of these days.' "
Paul said in the Face the Nation interview his recovery has been arduous.