SALEM, N.H. — A judge agreed to drop a bail condition that prevents David “D.J.” Bettencourt, a local and state official, from having any contact with his wife and being within 300 feet of her following his arrest for domestic violence a week ago.

The 38-year-old was taken into custody May 5 after Shannon Bettencourt reported to police just before 2 a.m. that her husband had been drinking and pulled her out of bed, angered by something on her cell phone.

D.J. Bettencourt is an elected member of Salem’s Budget Committee and earns $108,000 annually for work as a policy director and deputy commissioner at the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

He was placed on paid administrative leave from the state roles pending an outcome of the criminal case, according to state Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs Michael Garrity.

In a Salem courtroom Thursday morning, defense attorney Tony Sculimbrene pointed out that his client has no criminal record and would like to be able to return home to help care for the couple’s three young children. It was noted that he also coaches their baseball and softball teams.

Shannon Bettencourt told Judge Robert Stephen that she supports her husband’s homecoming, and provided a letter outlining the series of events in question.

Some prominent details differ from what appears in a police affidavit, and for that reason the judge reminded Shannon Bettencourt of her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

“In the early morning hours of May 5, 2022, my husband David Bettencourt and I got into an argument,” the letter begins. “The argument grew heated and during that argument, I attempted to throw my cell phone at him. In the process of trying to prevent me from striking him, he gripped my arms to prevent me from hurting him.”

According to the affidavit, however, she told police that she was sleeping on a pull-out bed in her daughter’s room when her husband came in yelling about a message he found on her phone that he believed was from or to another man.

“Bettencourt grabbed her by both forearms and pulled her out of the bed yelling, ‘what the (explicative) is this?’,” the affidavit reads.

It goes on to say that Shannon Bettencourt called police after he came back into the room 10 minutes after assaulting her, continuing to yell.

He was accused of taking her phone and threatening to break it, then proceeding to throw it on the ground in the laundry room.

Her letter to the court states, “at the time of that argument, I was very angry with him. I was tired, emotional and wanted the argument to end. So, I called the police.”

The intent, she wrote, was for her husband to leave the house for the night to allow “both of us to cool down.”

Stephen decided Thursday to assign Shannon Bettencourt, as the alleged victim, an attorney of her own to ensure that her legal rights are met.

“I was then and am now horrified by what has happened,” her letter reads. “I never imagined that my husband would be detained. My husband is a good man, an outstanding father, and a cherished husband.”

She refers to her police call as “a terrible impulse decision,” made “out of anger and frustration.” She says she was “never in fear for my safety,” but “just wanted the argument to end.”

D.J. Bettencourt was recently elected to a Charter Commission that will consider Salem’s government structure. In March, he topped the ticket for re-election to the Budget Committee.

Gov. Chris Sununu last year approved Bettencourt’s nomination as deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

Also a former state representative, Bettencourt served as Sununu’s policy director from 2017 until 2021.

He was first elected as a state representative in 2004 at the age of 20, and following the 2010 elections he became the nation’s youngest House Majority Leader, and the youngest in New Hampshire history.

He stepped away in 2012, at age 28, issuing a statement that cited personal and professional commitments that would prevent him from continuing his legislative career.

But the resignation came amid a scandal and public admission that Bettencourt had misrepresented work while pursuing a law degree from the University of New Hampshire law school.

Regarding his arrest, his wife noted, “he does not deserve to have this incident stain his reputation.”

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 15.

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