Archives For Domestic Violence


Measure called most comprehensive in a generation

AP Photo

BOSTON — An overhaul of the state’s domestic violence laws, including new bail guidelines and tougher penalties for abusers, unanimously cleared the Massachusetts House on Tuesday amid concerns from defense attorneys that the bill was hastily drafted and overly broad.

The measure, called the most comprehensive domestic violence legislation in a generation by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, was approved 142-0 and now goes to the Senate.

DeLeo said in introducing the bill with Attorney General Martha Coakley last week that it was spurred by the brutal stabbing death in Waltham of Jennifer Martel, allegedly at the hands of Jared Remy, the son of popular Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy.

Jared Remy, who has pleaded not guilty, was arrested one day after his release from custody on charges of assaulting Martel, and the case prompted questions about whether Remy’s violent history had been overlooked by the criminal justice system.

Among the many provisions in the bill is one that would require domestic assault suspects to be held for at least six hours after an arrest to allow time for a safety plan to be developed for the accuser. Bail commissioners would also be required to submit a written assessment of the safety risk a defendant might pose before release is granted.

“Victims often feel that they are neglected in the process, that they don’t have a say,” said state Rep. Christopher Markey, D-Dartmouth, during Tuesday’s debate. “I think this bill empowers victims to be able to do things they have never been able to do before.”

The measure also seeks to provide judges and prosecutors with the most complete information available about a defendant, including any prior domestic violence charges or restraining orders in one or several jurisdictions. DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, had suggested that if more had been known about Remy’s past record, the  course of events could have changed.

The House bypassed the normal process of referring the bill to a legislative committee process and holding a public hearing, instead taking it up as an amendment to an existing Senate bill.

“My overall concern is that (the bill) is being rushed through without looking at some of the more troublesome aspects of this,” said Liza Lunt, president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

While the group supports several aspects of the proposal, including enhanced training for judges, court officials and prosecutors around domestic violence issues, Lunt said many other provisions go too far.

For example, the six-hour bail provision could be broadly interpreted to apply to family disputes or other cases that fall outside the typical definition of domestic violence, Lunt said.

The organization was also concerned with some of the stiffer penalties included in the bill and a broader definition of domestic violence that could include, as an example, an altercation between two roommates, Lunt said.

The House backed an amendment sought by the Gun Owners Action League that would allow women to purchase pepper spray as protection without first obtaining a firearms identification card.

The debate came two months after the House voted to expel one of its own, then state Rep. Carlos Henriquez of Boston, following his conviction in a domestic violence case. A proposed amendment to the bill calling for the automatic removal of any lawmaker convicted of domestic abuse was ruled unconstitutional by House leaders.


Suspect allegedly lunged at officers with knives 

BOSTON — A Boston police officer shot and killed a man who lunged at officers with knives on Saturday, officials said.

Watch NewsCenter 5 report

Police were responding to a report of domestic violence between a boyfriend and girlfriend at 77 Lenox Street in the South End, Boston police said.

Arriving officers said the woman had “visible facial injuries.”

When the officers attempted to place the man under arrest, he “armed himself with multiple knives and lunged at the officers,” police said.  One officer fired, killing the man.

The man, who was pronounced dead at Boston Medical Center, has not been identified. The officer who shot the suspect was not injured but taken to a hospital, as required by Boston police policy.


Man taken into custody after Forest Park neighborhood incident

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Springfield police say no one was hurt when a domestic violence suspect grabbed for an officer’s gun and it went off.

A department spokesman says officers responded to a domestic dispute in a car in the Forest Park neighborhood at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

When officers got to the vehicle, the man had already gone into the building.

Police accompanied the victim to her door to make sure she was safe, but when they reached the door, the suspect came out with a gun.

Police wrested the gun away from the suspect, but during the struggle, he reached for an officer’s gun, which discharged. No one was hit.

The man was arrested. His name was not immediately made public.

Police say they think his intention was to kill the woman.


Victim no longer wants to pursue charges

BOSTON — Bail has been set for a Boston EMT who was accused of domestic violence.

Juan Rivas, 34, of Roxbury, was charged with assault and battery, and rape, and his bail has been set for $50,000.

The victim was in court on Tuesday and described Rivas as a “nice man,” and no longer wanted to pursue charges. However, there’s no indication that the district attorney will drop the charges.

Prosecutors said the incident began with a date on Valentine’s Day.

Police said Rivas allegedly took the woman, who is being described as his fiancée, to dinner at the Prudential Center. Police said at some point on their drive home, they had an argument.

According to prosecutors, the victim said they argued and he got her out of the car on Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester.

She said she had no money and was a distance from home. The assistant district attorney told the court she got a ride home with an unidentified male.

Later that night, police said, Rivas came to her home, raped the woman and then repeatedly assaulted her.  The ADA described a scene with overturned tables, long strands of a woman’s hair on the floor and a house in disarray.

The ADA also said the victim was allegedly choked and told investigators at one point, she couldn’t breathe. Her two young children were in the house at the time of the assault.

The victim wore sunglasses in court on Tuesday, and there were bruises on her face.

Police said they were called to the victim’s home early Saturday morning and Rivas turned himself in to police on Monday.

Rivas has been an EMT since 2011. He was placed on administrative leave by the Boston Public Health Commission pending an investigation. He is a graduate of Boston Latin High School and the holder of a permanent green card.

His next court date is March 6.


Judge calls abuse case ‘worst’ he’s seen

SALEM, Mass. — A Salem martial arts instructor charged with beating his girlfriend so severely that her own parents barely recognized her has been ordered held without bail.

Louf has pleaded not guilty to charges including attempted murder and aggravated assault and battery.

Police say Louf’s 27-year-old girlfriend suffered “cauliflower” ears, multiple broken noses, broken teeth, detached retinas and scars, bruises and bumps all over her body. She now needs reconstructive surgery.

Louf’s attorney Joseph Simons said his client is innocent and the woman’s injuries are from mixed-martial arts fighting.

Prosecutor Kate MacDougall said Louf dominated the woman and treated her like a “hostage,” controlling her phone and social media accounts.


80 participate in “Cut It Out” program

haircut

MEDFORD, Mass. — Massage therapist Marriam Donovan says she grew up watching her stepfather beat her mother, so she’s familiar with domestic violence. Now she’s being asked to look for similar abuse among her clients.

Donovan and hundreds of other women have received training under a program aimed at reaching victims of domestic violence through their hairstylists, skin care specialists, makeup artists and other salon professionals.

Donovan was among 80 students at the Elizabeth Grady School of Esthetics and Massage Therapy in Medford who participated in a recent session in the “Cut It Out” program run by the office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. The program is designed to teach beauty professionals to identify signs of abuse and to refer clients to local battered women’s shelters and other community service providers.

“If I had to help somebody going through this, I think I would do a good job because I’ve been through it,” said Donovan, who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“I know the signs,” she said. “I do know how to approach someone without them feeling like they’re being judged.”

Ryan said “Cut It Out,” a program first started in Birmingham, Ala., in 2002, relies on the warm relationships women often have with their beauticians to encourage victims of domestic violence to seek help.

“We’re not asking them to become deputies or police. It’s really about helping get information into the hands (of victims),” Ryan said.

Ryan started bringing the program to vocational schools in 2009 and then added private salons and beauty schools. In the last five years more than 900 people have been trained under the program, she said.

Ryan told the Elizabeth Grady students that because of the personal nature of their work, beauticians are in a unique position to spot signs of violence that many people wouldn’t notice, including bumps or scars on the scalp, missing or damaged hair, red marks or bruising on the neck, as well as missed appointments, nervousness or anxiety. They were advised to be supportive and nonjudgmental and to gently refer the woman to brochures or cards in the salon containing information about local groups that can help.

Ryan said the district attorney’s office hasn’t tracked how many women have been helped by their beauticians, but she said every time she does a training session, someone approaches her to say they know someone who is a victim of domestic violence.

John Walsh, chief executive of The Elizabeth Grady Co., said he decided to ask his students to participate in the program after considering the number of women who could be reached through the company’s salons, which last year served more than 300,000 clients.

“By having the training session and educating our staff, it gives them a great resource for referrals,” Walsh said.

During the training, the beauticians hear from service providers, including Deb Romvos, who founded the advocacy organization Portal to Hope after escaping her own abusive relationship. Romvos told the Elizabeth Grady students that she was able to rebuild her life with the help of a domestic violence advocate and a police officer.

“It’s all our obligation to help,” she said.

Tania Alongi, the owner of a beauty salon in Wakefield, attended a training program and said she plans to invite other salon owners to come to her salon to receive training. She said she’d be comfortable broaching the subject with a client if she noticed any abrasions, missing hair or other signs of abuse.

“I would spend a little extra time on that area, and then I would go in front of the chair and ask them if everything is OK,” Alongi said.

“With the relationship I have with many of my clients, if I looked them in the eye, they would tell me what is going on in their lives because they know that I care.”


Michelle Dunworth charged with endagering welfare of child, domestic violence

Kevyn Fowler Image

THORNDIKE, Maine —A Maine woman is facing charges for allegedly burning her 6-year-old son’s hand on a wood stove on purpose to teach him a lesson.

Police say 30-year-old Michelle Dunworth, of Thorndike, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and domestic assault.

Police say two of Dunworth’s children were playing last week when the boy accidentally pushed his 7-year-old sister against the stove, burning her.

Dunworth then allegedly held the boy’s hand against the stove to show him what it felt like.

Police say the second- to third-degree burn covered the back of the boy’s hand and wrist. It was discovered by school officials.

Dunworth is free on bail and scheduled to appear in court next month. She told police both children were burned by accident.


Henriquez convicted of assaulting ex-girlfriend

Carlos Henriquez booking

State Representative Carlos T. Henriquez was charged by Boston Police with Domestic Assault and Battery and Domestic Kidnapping.

MEDFORD, Mass. — House Speaker Robert DeLeo has asked state Rep. Carlos Henriquez to resign after he was sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted of assaulting a former girlfriend.

Henriquez, a Boston Democrat, was found guilty by a Cambridge District Court jury of two assault and battery charges. He was acquitted of a third assault and battery charge, as well as larceny and witness intimidation charges.

The woman told police Henriquez punched and choked her.

Prosecutors say Henriquez picked up the woman in Arlington and assaulted her inside the car, grabbed her cellphone, and drove into Boston, where she jumped out of the vehicle and got help from police.

Henriquez’s lawyer, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, argued during the trial that the woman’s accounts of events were inconsistent and there was no corroboration of her account.

The conviction drew immediate calls from Republicans for Henriquez to resign.

“Now that Representative Henriquez has had his day in court, it is time for him to leave this institution which should in no way condone violence against women,” said state Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, the assistant House minority whip, in a statement.

The lawmaker “breached the trust of his colleagues and constituents, and his reprehensible actions will not be tolerated,” she said.

The House could weigh several options including expulsion if Henriquez, who was led away in handcuffs following his conviction, chose to remain in the House.

Henriquez represents the 5th Suffolk District in the Legislature and was born and raised in the city’s Roxbury neighborhood, according to his biography.

He was re-elected in November, several months after his arrest, to a second term in the House without Democratic or Republican opposition.


Police say suspect fought officers

Cohasset police

COHASSET, Mass. —A K-9 police officer helped authorities apprehend a suspect in Cohasset on Saturday, news partner Wicked Local reports.

See photos of the capture

Police said they confronted a 52-year-old man in Norwell Saturday who was wanted in connection with an alleged domestic abuse assault and battery.

The suspect refused to show his hands and surrender to police, so K-9 officer Erik, a 3-year-old Slovakian German shepherd, was deployed to control the suspect, officials said.

“Foolishly, he opted to fight with the officers and a well-trained police dog,” said William Quigley, the acting police chief of Cohasset.

Officers were able to handcuff the man after Erik made contact with the suspect.

James Hazelhurt, of Stoughton, was charged with domestic assault and battery and resisting arrest. He was treated and released at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth.

The dog was not injured, police said.


ELLSWORTH, MaineMaine State Police have arrested an Ellsworth man in the beating death of his wife on Christmas Day.

Police arrested 30-year-old Chris Saenz on Friday evening.

He’s charged in the death of 29-year-old Hillary Saenz whose body was found in the couple’s apartment Wednesday afternoon after Chris Saenz called for an ambulance.

Police say an autopsy has determined that Hillary Saenz died of blunt force trauma.

Chris Saenz is expected to make his first court appearance early next week. It’s not immediately known if he’s being represented by a lawyer.

Police say the couple have two children, aged 8 and 12, who are now in the care of relatives.

Police say this is the 24th homicide and 11th domestic violence related homicide in Maine this year.

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