New Hampshire Deputy Insurance Commissioner D.J. Bettencourt has been placed on leave from his position after he was arrested this Friday on domestic violence charges, NH Journal reports.
Bettencourt, 38, allegedly grabbed his wife during an altercation at the couple’s Salem home. He was charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence, although his lack of a criminal record will likely spare him any jail time.
“Mr. Bettencourt entered a plea of not guilty and maintains his innocence," attorney Tony Sculimbrene told the Eagle Tribune. "He has been fully cooperative with the process and looks forward to resolving this matter in court. Out of respect for his family and to preserve the integrity of the justice system, Mr. Bettencourt will not be litigating this matter in the media or the court of public opinion.”
As NH Journal points out, Bettencourt is a former House majority leader and former policy director for Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. He served under Sununu from 2017 to 2021.
Salem Police say they were called to the home when Bettencourt became angry after reading what he believed to be a text from a man on his wife’s phone. He then allegedly assaulted his wife after confronting her about the message.
“Bettencourt grabbed her by both forearms and pulled her out of the bed yelling ‘what the (expletive) is this,’” Salem Police Officer Mark Conway wrote in the affidavit.
Bettencourt then told his wife he was going to break the phone, according to Conway. He then threw the phone into another room.
Shannon Bettencourt told police that the message on the phone was a journal-entry she wrote to herself. “Shannon stated they are currently going to marriage counseling and the message he was referring to was not a text message between anyone, it was in the ‘notes’ section of her phone and it was a diary of her thoughts,” the affidavit reads.
“This despicable conduct by D.J. Bettencourt is appalling and disturbing, and Sununu has once again surrounded himself with allies who are violent against women,” said Monica Venzke, the press secretary for New Hampshire Democrats.
In a statement to the Eagle Tribune, Shannon Bettencourt asked for privacy. "We do hope it’s clear when this process plays out, that it’s not as it may seem and I support and love my husband," she said.
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