John Ouellette, 28, and his girlfriend 30 year old Shannon Thibodeau had lived together until a little over a week ago. Thibodeau was the mother of two children who also lived in the home.
Reportedly police were called to the home last Monday for an argument. When they arrived, they found Thibodeau with her leg badly broken at the knee joint. So badly broken that her leg had to be amputated. In a request for a protective order for Thibodeau and her children, an investigator stated that the children were present when her leg was injured. Thibodeau remains hospitalized.
Police arrested John Ouellette on Thursday on a felony charge of willful injury. Reportedly this is not his first time to come to the attention of police, or even his first arrest. Reportedly he had a criminal history of a 2001 conviction for going armed with intent, and assault while participating in a felony. His probation ended in July of this year. In 2003 was a simple domestic assault with a different woman.
Thibodeau may have known of Ouellette’s criminal conviction for the 2001 conviction. But she very well may not have known of the simple domestic assault, as those often do not get reported in the paper.
Then again she may have known. Often an abuser will tell new aquaintance’s and friends that they did not do anything wrong. The wife or girlfriend told a bunch of lies. Either the police fell for it, or they contributed to it. They tend to gloss over the fact that either they went to court and were found guilty or they pled guilty to the crime. Also they often don’t mention that they may have initially been charged with more serious charges that may have been reduced.
Or they may blame the victim, say it was a joint dispute, or simply say they did it and they were sorry.
At the time of meeting and dating, most people are on their best behavior. They are nice, giving, friendly and often even gentle. It is easy to believe the excuses. Some persons who are starting to date may be more discerning, they may ask questions of the abuser or they may even ask questions of his/her family and friends. Much of their answer however will be based on their views of the person and their desire for a trouble free relationship.
If you intend to continue dating, I suggest going one or two steps further. First try to find newspaper articles on the person, run a google search on them, and if necessary go to the courthouse and look up the record on the conviction (criminal convictions are public record).
Learn about the conviction before making a decision about continuing to date. If they have committed an act of violence once, they will likely do it again at some point. And even if they were only convicted of a “simple assault”, that doesn’t mean the abuser wasn’t initially charged with something worse or that you will get off that easily.
If you want to ask questions, a pertinent question might be what steps are you taking to prevent it from happening again?
Thibodeau lived, but she is paying a high price. She recieved a permanent injury in which her broken leg resulted in an amputation. Her children were undoubtedly traumatized through what they saw that night. It is too late for her to go back and change things, but it is a warning for others.