Heard: October 11, 2018.
for protection from abuse filed in the Orleans Division of
the District Court Department on September 23, 2000.
motion to terminate an abuse prevention order, filed on
September 6, 2016, was heard by Robert A. Welsh, III, J.
Genevieve K. Henrique for the defendant.
Present: Green, C.J., Hanlon, & Maldonado, JJ.
hearing, a District Court judge denied the defendant's
motion to terminate a permanent abuse prevention order issued
pursuant to G. L. c. 209A (209A order),  The defendant
appeals, arguing that the judge abused his discretion
because, in the defendant's view, he proved that there
had been a significant change of circumstances and, as a
result, the plaintiff no longer had a reasonable fear of
physical harm from him. For that reason, he contends that it
is no longer equitable for the 209A order to remain in place.
case began with an emergency ex parte 209A order issued on
September 23, 2000, a Saturday. See G. L. c. 209A, § 5.
The judge ordered the defendant not to abuse the plaintiff,
not to contact her directly or indirectly, and to stay one
hundred yards away from her and her children. He also ordered
the defendant to immediately surrender to the local police
department all "guns, ammunition, gun licenses and FID
[firearms identification] cards." An order providing
essentially the same relief was issued ex parte by another
judge in the District Court on the following Monday,
September 25, 2000, and a hearing after notice was scheduled
for October 2, 2000.
time, the parties had been married for approximately two and
one-half years. According to the plaintiff's affidavit
filed in support of her complaint,  the defendant had threatened
her in the past "that if [she] divorced him he would see
[her] dead first. He ha[d] also been physically and sexually
abusive of [her] in the time [they] were living
together." On Saturday, September 23, the affidavit
continued, the defendant stopped by the plaintiff's house
and became argumentative with her and her older child. The
plaintiff told him to leave, but he refused "and
continued to argue and yell. Finally when both [of her]
children, ages 7 and 11, and [she] told him to get out and
never come back[, ] he became even more irate and grabbed a
dozen roses out of a vase," hit her in the face with
them, and then left the house. She went outside and threw the
roses at his car. "He then spun tires and gravel (with
many neighborhood children present at [the] side of [the]
driveway) and went out of the driveway." The plaintiff
then returned to her house, "[a]t which time he returned
into [the] driveway and aimed his vehicle at [her] 11 year
old daughter and tried to run her over. This was witnessed by
many children and adults across from [her]
home." She continued, "We are all quite afraid of
what he may attempt to do, if he has lost it enough to
retaliate against a child with a vehicle."
same day as the ex parte hearing, September 25, 2000, the
defendant was arraigned in the District Court on charges of
assault by means of a dangerous weapon and assault and
battery by means of a dangerous weapon. He was served in
hand with a copy of the 209A order and a return of service
was filed with the court on September 26, 2000.
hearing after notice on October 2, 2000, the 209A order was
extended until October 2, 2001; the face of the order
indicates that the defendant was present, and the "no
contact" provision of the order was amended to provide
that "th[e] defendant remain 300 feet away from the
plaintiff," as opposed to the one hundred yards
provision specified in the emergency 209A order. In addition,
the judge specified that "the order shall not be
construed so as to prevent either party from using the ways
of the town to enter or [leave] his or her home." On
October 2, 2001, with both parties present, the 209A order
was extended without modification until April 2,
2002. On April 2, 2002, the 209A order was
amended to reflect a change in the plaintiff's name, and
the order was made permanent.
fourteen years later, on September 6, 2016, the defendant
filed the motion at issue here, seeking to terminate the 209A
order because of a change of circumstances. In his affidavit
in support of the motion, the defendant represented that he
had had no contact with the plaintiff since "on or about
August, 2001." He now lives in Nevada and has been
married to another woman since 2010. His current wife is from
the Philippines and she has dual citizenship; the couple
travel to the Philippines at least once a year. He is
"stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Officials almost
every trip" and "detained for approximately 45
minutes." Further, the defendant is employed as a
commercial truck driver for a company that "performs a
majority of its work on Federal Government worksites and for