BRATTLEBORO — A judge “reluctantly” lifted a no-contact order on a man accused of committing domestic assault on April 7 in Townshend after his partner claimed in court last week that she was responsible for the altercation that resulted in his arrest.
The alleged victim said she was mixing alcohol and Adderall when she had “a massive PTSD response to where I freaked out from serious trauma and I called the police for no reason honestly.”
Troopers documented bruises, which included evidence of a headbutt, on the complainant and as a result, Andrew L. Powell, 27, was arrested and charged in court with domestic assault. On the stand, the woman said she was responsible for the bruises.
In agreeing to amend the conditions of Powell’s release, Windham County Judge Katherine Hayes noted Andrew L. Powell, 27, has no criminal record “to speak of” and has no record of assaultive behavior.
“This is a reluctant decision ...” said Hayes, about lifting the condition. “It’s very, very far from unheard of for us to have a complaining witness in a domestic violence case come in and take all of the responsibility for every bit of injury that they have suffered, and for indeed every aspect of the relationship that was dysfunctional or negative or problematic.”
Mimi Brill, supervising attorney for the Windham County Public Defender’s Office, said lifting the no-contact condition would allow the couple “to live together and for him to be able to support her in this critical time.
“I know that my client is a really strong support for her,” said Brill. “And that would be really helpful for her going forward ... “
Brill also noted a motion to dismiss the charges against Powell was appropriate in this case.
Hayes acknowledged the alleged victim has received help through Turning Point of Windham County, but noted people in these situations often blame themselves for a variety of reasons, such as drug or alcohol use or struggles with mental health issues.
“We often hear that and I don’t I think it is often quite genuine and honest ...” said Hayes, adding “We also observe that relationships, in which one partner or both end up with significant physical injuries again and again, responsibility isn’t one sided.”
When alcohol and drugs are mixed in, she said, it increases “the risk of harm, physical harm, serious bodily injury or death to one or both partners ... [and] it creates a risk for everyone in the community.”
The state objected to the lifting of the condition while the case is pending.
Deputy State’s Attorney Dana Nevins asked the alleged victim, who said she was “belligerently drunk,” how the police didn’t detect her intoxication.
She said “with my years of drinking” she was able to hide it from the troopers.
Hayes said she hopes the woman will get placement in a residential treatment program before the couple tries living together again.
“[But] I’m not their advisor. I think while someone is in the initial stages of addressing the severe alcohol problem, they really need to spend a lot of time by themselves working on that and working with folks who are skilled in providing services related to it. That’s probably safer for him as well as for her, but I’m not ordering it. So I wish you folks the best of luck.”
She also noted that while the case is pending, both should refrain from “abusing or harassing each other.”
At the end of the hearing, Hayes suggested Powell also seek counseling.