DANVERS — The Gloucester woman charged in last month's "road rage" incident on Route 128 slipped into Salem District Court a week before her scheduled arraignment.
Catherine Bergen, 33, was arraigned Thursday on charges of assault and battery on person 60 or older, assault, disorderly conduct, driving recklessly to endanger and stopping or parking on a state highway.
Judge Shelley Joseph entered not guilty pleas on Bergen's behalf, after allowing Bergen's lawyer, Stephen Neyman, to "advance" the case by nearly a week.
Prosecutor Michael Varone did not request bail, but did ask for several conditions of release, including no driving and no contact with the other driver.
Neyman said his client does not know that other driver, Susan Lavoie, nor where she lives.
"She won't go near her," Neyman told the judge.
Bergen's license has been suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles as an "immediate threat," Varone told the judge.
Prosecutors amended the original felony charge to reflect that the other driver in the incident, Lavoie, 64, of Beverly, was not injured.
The judge also warned Bergen that if she gets into any further trouble or violates the terms of her release, she could be held in custody.
A clerk magistrate last week found probable cause for Lavoie to face charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct. Lavoie's arraignment is scheduled for next Wednesday — which was also the original scheduled arraignment date for Bergen.
Police reports and witness statements indicate that Bergen, of 69 Witham St., Gloucester, was the initial aggressor, allegedly attempting to pass Lavoie on the right on a two-lane stretch of Route 128 in Danvers back on March 29, at the same moment that Lavoie signaled a lane change.
Police say Bergen then managed to get in front of Lavoie's car and slammed on the brakes, forcing Lavoie to stop. She then got out of her car and began hitting the window of Lavoie's car.
A video taken by one of the witnesses, another driver, shows Bergen out of the car as Lavoie opens her door and stumbles out, falling. The two women in the video begin to slap at each other, until another driver approaches to break up the fight.
Bergen told police that Lavoie was the one driving aggressively and "brake checking" her before the incident.
The incident drew international attention after the video was shared on social media.
After realizing that a Salem News photographer was present in court Thursday, Bergen donned a black sweater and scarf, and carried a pair of dark sunglasses, which she put on immediately after the arraignment, as she turned away from the judge's bench.
Lavoie's hearing last week drew a large media presence to Salem's Ruane Judicial Center, and she also attempted to elude photographers by leaving through a rear door of the courthouse that is normally off-limits to the public.
Neyman declined to comment outside court, saying he had not yet read police reports or viewed a video provided by the district attorney's office, though he acknowledged that he had seen a video of the incident on the internet.
Bergen is due back in court on June 7.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.