Maine man held without bail in case of DV

Judicial_Review_02WESTBOROUGH, MA March 30, 2014  The Portland Press Herald reported on the case of Jason Lawrence who is being held without bail for domestic violence.  He is a repeat offender whose violence against women can be traced back to 1997.  Is anyone surprised that the well-being of victims in this case were not considered by the judicial system who twice released Mr. Lawrence into the community. Finally, the perpetrator’s actions convinced someone he was the real deal and is being held without bail in Maine. At what point does the well-being of victims and potential victims rise above the abuser’s right to bail?  Some circumstances warrant the containment of those who exhibit abject cruelty over and over.  Many states including Massachusetts are beginning to realize how emotionally dehiscent an abuser can become.  The case in Maine is the first I have seen to hold a violent abuser without bail in that state.

Recently, the SJC in Massachusetts denied to remove a protective order that has been in  place over 10 years.  He claimed to have “moved on” and wanted to work with children and own firearms – arguably two rights surrendered when domestic violence allegations have been proven against you.  The SJC called the rights of abusers to have protective orders dropped years later – as the collateral consequence for the years of documented abuse (Sefton, 2014).

In the June 2011, Dexter, Maine homicide, one police officer was heard to say he had never before been so afraid for a victim of domestic violence and in spite of those fears and having access to firearms, Steven Lake was released from custody with little bail. The subsequent Psychological Autopsy conducted in 2011 by 4 current or former law enforcement officers identified red flags – just like those exhibited by Jason Lawrence – as being highly predictive of domestic violence homicide (Allanach et al., 2011). Mr. Lake killed his family and then himself in June 2011. People knew this was his ultimate intention and said nothing until the terminal rage he concocted resulted in the deaths of 3 innocent citizens from the state of Maine. Red flags were identified in the post hoc analysis of the case and were presented to the Domestic Violence Homicide Review Panel in November, 2011 in Augusta.

Does anyone doubt what Mr. Lawrence’s ultimate intention was in the 3 weeks between arrests? His anger and marginal behavior were escalating by the day. It did not matter to Lawrence that a protective order was in place.  A “no contact” order means nothing to a man who believes all control has been taken from him.  Arguably, when a district attorney identifies someone as “one of the worst domestic violence individuals ever” – as in this case, those words should be key is setting the parameters for bail. Greater discretion for bail is necessary in this case just as when a police officer believes a victim is not safe from her purported abuser. Ultimately, the premonition of the deputy sheriff in northern Maine came true on the morning of June 12, 2011.

Mr. Lawrence is not afraid of the police or being sent to jail because he has no limits on what he can do. He does as he pleases and containment is the only correct solution.  Red flags were apparent as far back as 1997.  The valid predictor of future violence is past violence. regrettably, the secrecy of victims and those who choose remain silent are the one’s who might stop domestic violence.  And as a society we must do something to bring a voice to these individuals because to do nothing is unthinkable.

Read more from the Bangor Daily News:


Ronald Allanach et al., Psychological Autopsy of June 13, 2011, Dexter, Maine Domestic Violence Homicides and Suicide: Final Report 39 (Nov. 28, 2011),

Sefton, M.S., Collateral Consequences, taken on 3-30-14,

“Whether or not…

“Whether or not a student receives support on an education plan has no bearing on the kind of support they might need when they return to school after a concussion” Michael Sefton, Ph.D. Director of Neuropsychology – Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital

Students who return to school following a cerbral concussion often require specialized scheduling, rest breaks, reduced work load, and other individualized support.

Collateral consequences: Stay away orders that are forever

WESTBOROUGH, MA  Protective orders are devised to keep victims of domestic violence safe and are valid and useful judicial tools to arrest perpetrators of DV who violate them. Some orders are vacated automatically if the facts of the case do not warrant the renewing of an order or if the victims does not wish to continue the protective order.  In the extreme, protective orders are put in place that do not expire because the perpetrator has exhibited such high risk behavior and the facts of the case bear out the necessity of such an order for the safety of victims.  These orders are not handed out without compelling evidence of repeated violent and coercive behavior toward victims and are subject to rigorous judicial and legal scrutiny.

Perpetrator wants 2001 order vacated

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that Kevin Caruso must submit “clear and convincing evidence” that he no longer poses a danger to former girlfriend in a case dating back to 2001.  The Supreme Judicial Court  in Massachusetts has required that Mr. Caruso provide proof that “he has ‘moved on’ from his history of domestic abuse and retaliation”.  Merely being in a new marriage is not sufficient to prove that he is no longer a threat to the former girlfriend.  In fact, it is well known that men move from one abusive relationship to another inflicting fear and terror with every passing day. In most cases, red flags litter the wake of repeated domestic violence with violent behavior including choking, threats with firearms, social media stalking, and other forms of sadistic, coercive control.  In this case, Mr. Caruso has been stopped from working with children because a permanent “stay away” protective order appears in his CORI – criminal record.  It has been an inconvenience because he is now prevented from owning firearms and has been subjected to searches when he pass through airports.  In the written opinion, SJC Justice Ralph W. Gants states “the only relevant issue is the safety of the plaintiff – not the passage of time” as published in the Boston Globe (3-14-2014).  The SJC called the frustration felt by Mr. Caruso the “collateral consequence” of the permanent restraining order put in place initially issued as a result of his threats to kill his former girlfriend.  According to Justice Gants, “the impact on the life of the alleged abuser is not a critical issue for the judges” and ultimately he must show “clear and convincing evidence that it is no longer equitable for the order to continue.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has taken an important position in this decision to help protect victims of DV with the most egregious case histories.  Accordingly, distance alone and a new relationships are not conclusive documentation of “moving on” and as a result do not reduce the risk to victims.  In the decision the SJC rightfully protects the safety of the most vulnerable by requiring “persuasive evidence that the conduct of the abuser has had a significant change of circumstances” that results in the reduction of risk to the victim or victims.  Perhaps this is the first step toward a national data base of domestic violence offenders similar to the sexual abuse registry.  Substantive decisions about bail or no bail holds will be more reliable by having access to the violent history of domestic violence offenders and the protective orders that have been issued time and time again.