A local news story that many have asked us about this week involves the domestic violence charges, now dropped, against former American Idol singer and Bergen County resident, Constantine Maroulis. We would like to preface our comments by noting the sensitivity of any discussion that involves domestic violence. The charges against Mr. Maroulis have been dismissed. Still, the nature of the original incident and claims of abuse by both spouses (aka, “mutual abuse”) brings up interesting points that may be beneficial for others seeking help with domestic violence issues.
The original incident that led to the arrest of Maroulis on August 1 involved allegations by then-girlfriend Angel Reed, also the mother of a young child the two have together, that Maroulis kicked her in the groin following an argument.
Maroulis claimed his actions were in self-defense after Reed threw things at him and injured his leg. Both Maroulis and Reed took out restraining orders against each other. Later that month, in an email to his attorney, Maroulis claimed that he was being falsely accused and outlined the details leading up to the couple’s fight. When sending the email, he allegedly cc’ed Reed by mistake. When she received the email, she notified police that Maroulis had contacted her, thus violating the restraining order. Maroulis was arrested again as a result.
In this latest court action this week, counsel for the singer told the judge that Maroulis and Reed have agreed to separate, and a plea arrangement was arranged. The charges were dismissed on the condition that no other complaints are filed for six months.
The takeaway? Without having any further details, the type of allegations made in a case like this could reveal mutual abuse on the part of both spouses. When mutual abuse is found to have occurred, it means that each spouse engaged in acts of domestic violence against the other. Do abusers sometimes make allegations that “I was abused, too!” as a way to deflect blame and punishment? Yes, which is why in cases where both partners claim to be the victims of abuse, the courts scrutinize evidence carefully, looking for clear cut evidence (i.e., witnesses, photos, hospital reports, etc.) and other verifiable patterns of abusive behavior. If both partners are found to be both an abuser and a victim of domestic violence, they will still face potential legal consequences for their actions.
With the charges dismissed, further speculation in the Maroulis case would be inappropriate. However, now that the couple has separated, it can only be hoped that cooler heads prevail and the needs of their young child come first. For any couple with children facing an acrimonious split, taking steps to reduce stress and conflict can helpful, both for the child and for the co-parents as they begin to move forward.
Has your partner verbally or physically threatened, or has an assault taken place? Do you have questions about restraining orders? Our attorneys can help explain your legal rights. Please contact us to schedule a free confidential consultation.