Max Misch - 7/6/21 arraignment

Max Misch pleaded not guilty to domestic assault charges during a remote hearing in Bennington Superior criminal court on Tuesday.

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BENNINGTON — Max Misch pleaded not guilty Tuesday to domestic assault allegations, his seventh criminal case in the county since 2019 but the first involving felony charges.

Misch, 38, a self-described white nationalist and Iraq War veteran, is facing two felony charges of first-degree aggravated domestic assault as well as a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault. Each of his felony charges carries a potential penalty of up to 15 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine.

Authorities accuse Misch of choking a woman and re-injuring her broken arm sometime in the past half-year. Bennington police said the woman didn’t report the incidents until Friday, when Misch called police to remove the woman from his apartment.

The woman refused to press charges against Misch, the investigator said, but talked about the assaults because she reportedly wanted police to know that “he is abusive too.”

According to police’s statement of probable cause for the charges, the woman said Misch choked her on Dec. 24 with his right hand because “he gets really angry, really fast.” She said she locked herself in the bathroom of Misch’s home, fearing for her life and safety.

The investigator, Corporal David Faden, said the woman showed him a cellphone photo of her neck area after the alleged choking, where he saw a hand print and bruise. When asked about the incident, Misch said they had an argument but denied choking the woman.

Police also accuse Misch of re-breaking the woman’s left arm — which she’d apparently first broken on a bike — when he slammed the front door against her arm sometime between Dec. 24 and the beginning of July. The new injury reportedly required her to undergo another surgery. Faden described the woman’s arm as being in a cast when he saw her on Friday.

Misch’s statement characterized it as an accident. He told police that the woman had shoved him out the front door while the mother of his children was at his home. Misch said he opened the door to get his keys, not realizing the woman was behind the door. The woman disputed this, saying Misch knew she was behind the door.

Misch said he’d called police on Friday to have the woman removed from his home, because she was throwing things at him, hit him and refused to leave. When asked if he had any injuries from the woman’s actions, Misch said no.

The woman did not want to press charges against Misch, citing “everything that he has going on,” according to the affidavit. She said she wanted to protect him and thought things would get better.

During his arraignment in Bennington Superior criminal court on Tuesday afternoon, Misch’s public defender entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

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Judge Cortland Corsones allowed him to remain free from jail on conditions. They include not having any contact with the woman and to stay at least 300 feet away from her.

Deputy State’s Attorney Alex Burke said the woman wanted to maintain contact with Misch but that the prosecution advised her against it because of the nature of the case.

Misch, who appeared by video link, acknowledged hearing the conditions.

PENDING CHARGES

Before he was charged over the weekend, Misch’s next court appearance wasn’t supposed to be until August. He was scheduled for status hearings on a charge of disorderly conduct during the painting of Bennington’s Black Lives Matter mural last summer, as well as another disorderly conduct allegation of fighting with a Black man in September.

The latter charge, which prosecutors enhanced as a hate crime, carries a potential jail time of up to two years. The rest of his misdemeanor charges are each punishable by a maximum of one year in jail.

Misch has four other criminal cases, which are being prosecuted by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. They encompass charges of illegally possessing large-capacity rifle magazines — Misch’s oldest case — as well as violating conditions of release on the magazine case.

He has pleaded not guilty to the other charges. Last month, he told the court he intended to make another motion to have his magazine charges dismissed, by arguing for his rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Misch’s first motion to dismiss, filed in March 2019, argued that the state ban violates two articles in the Vermont Constitution: people’s right to bear arms for defense, as well as the government’s being prohibited from passing laws that benefit certain groups.

The Superior Court denied the motion. This was affirmed by the Vermont Supreme Court, which said in February that the law is a reasonable regulation of people’s right to bear arms for self-defense.

Contact Tiffany Tan at ttan@benningtonbanner.com or @tiffgtan on Facebook and Twitter.


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