EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

February 5, 2014

Judge: Accused abuser 'needs to be caged'

Martial arts instructor held without bail

SALEM, Mass. — A Salem District Court judge yesterday compared martial arts instructor Joseph Louf to an “animal” that “needs to be caged” to protect his alleged victim and other women, before ordering him held without bail.

Judge Robert Brennan said the allegations against Louf, 37, of 171 North St., Salem, Mass., were “the worst case of ongoing and systematic domestic violence I’ve seen” in 24 years in the law.

Brennan’s remarks came at the end of a 90-minute hearing, during which Louf’s former girlfriend, a 27-year-old Gloucester woman, described months of daily beatings and the resulting injuries, which have left her disfigured.

Louf has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, aggravated assault and battery and assault and battery.

“What I look to here is the level of rage and violence and controlling behavior exhibited by Mr. Louf, and based on the degree of this abuse and the degree of control, and really pathologically violent behavior that I just heard about, I can’t conceive of placing any condition (of release) on him,” said Brennan.

Brennan also took the unusual step of finding not only probable cause to believe Louf is dangerous, but also probable cause for the charges, and ordered the case “bound over” to Superior Court.

Prosecutor Kate MacDougall likened the woman to a “hostage” who was so broken down by Louf that she no longer had control over her decision-making. Louf had taken control of her phone and social media accounts, and had alienated her family and friends.

On the day she decided to leave Louf, Jan. 7, she testified, she almost went back.

“I saw the house,” she said. But something made her turn away. She went to Gloucester.

Through tears, she described sleeping in her car for three hours. “I didn’t know where to go,” she told the judge. Finally, “I went to my grandmother’s house. She had no clue who I was.”

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