|Violent or no?|
By Christopher A. Davis
Probation can be a confusing system to navigate. Rules, regulations, contracts, supervisors, fees, costs . . . it can begin to sound less like punishment for your DUI and more like the job site of a metropolitan construction company. But in a 2016 decision, the SCOV clarified one point and emphasized another: first, groping the breasts of your partner’s 14-year-old daughter is considered “violent” behavior for purposes of probation; and second, if you want to fire your assigned attorney, and the court says no, it’s up to you to convince the SCOV that the trial court was unreasonable.
The facts are straight-forward. Defendant is convicted of larceny from a person and given a sentence that is mostly suspended (hanging over his head, so to speak) while he serves a period of probation. One of his probation conditions is that he not engage in “violent or threatening behavior.” This is coincidentally one of the most heavily-litigated probation conditions in recent SCOV history, mostly in the context of whether certain speech may be viewed as “threatening” (not the issue here, as you will see). Once placed on probation, he spends a week with a woman at a hotel in Berlin and on multiple occasions watches her two children, a girl age 14, and a boy age 9, at the hotel while she goes to work. On two occasions, according to a later report by the girl and investigation by local law enforcement and DCF, he touches the girl’s breast over her bra; this behavior occurs in conjunction with statements reportedly made by defendant to the girl encouraging the touching, discouraging the girl from reporting it, and attempting to blackmail her if she does report it by disclosing sensitive information he learned from spying on her use of his cell phone.
In what must have been a shock to local dating circles, defendant’s relationship with the children’s mother independently comes to a close a short time later and he is subsequently incarcerated for reasons undisclosed by the Court. After this point the girl discloses the touching, authorities investigate, and the probation officer responsible for supervising defendant files a violation of probation alleging two counts of violations of the condition prohibiting “violent or threatening behavior.”