BENNINGTON -- A man charged with 88 counts of violating a restraining order was sentenced Monday on one of those counts to serve between 2 and 10 years in prison.
On Feb. 2 Roger E. Lajoie, 50, pleaded not guilty to 88 counts of violating an abuse prevention order. On that same day the state dropped an aggravated assault charge filed against Lajoie in September 2011 because the complaining witness changed her story to say she had been the one to hit Lajoie. She had told police initially that he had thrown her into a chair.
The abuse prevention order forbidding Lajoie from contacting the woman was issued from Bennington Superior Court Family Division and was in connection with the assault charge. The order was still in effect between Sept. 22, 2011, and Dec. 1, 2011, according to an affidavit by Investigator Justin Niles, of the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department, who is assigned to the State’s Attorney’s Office. Niles wrote that he reviewed 226 calls made by Lajoie from the Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland where Lajoie was being held. He said he was able to identify a number of calls where Lajoie speaks to the woman he was not to have contact with.
Along with Lajoie, a number of other defendants facing domestic violence charges were charged with a high number of condition violation type charges, some pushing 100 violations. State’s Attorney Erica Marthage has said the high numbers reflect the tendency of defendants colluding with or coercing their alleged victims into changing their stories to get the charges dropped. She said because contact is recorded, the charges are easy to prove.