, Salem, MA

March 7, 2014

Salem martial arts instructor remains held


---- — SALEM — The mixed-martial arts instructor charged with repeatedly beating his girlfriend, so severely she has been left disfigured, will remain in custody until a hearing later this month to determine whether he still poses a danger if released.

Joseph Louf, 38, who until his arrest was living on North Street, was indicted late last month on a series of charges, including attempted murder, mayhem (the intentional disfigurement of someone), assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery on a pregnant woman and other charges.

He pleaded not guilty yesterday during his arraignment in Salem Superior Court, where the case will now be tried.

Prosecutor Kate MacDougall filed a new motion seeking to have Louf held in custody, arguing that he still poses too great a danger to the young woman, who lives in Gloucester with her family now, recovering from injuries that nearly left her blind.

Defense attorney Joseph Simons agreed to delay the hearing until March 24, while MacDougall tries a murder case. Louf will stay in custody at least through that hearing.

Simons told Judge John Lu that he intends to call several character witnesses during that hearing. MacDougall said she will ask the judge to rely on a recording of the young woman’s testimony, as well as testimony from a Salem police officer, and police and medical reports, in making his decision.

Louf ran a martial arts school called American Total Defense in Beverly. He and his attorney contend that the 27-year-old woman wanted to lose weight and that her injuries were the result of “sparring” with other boxers.

Since The Salem News first reported on the case last month, offers of help have come in from people who read about how the woman will require reconstructive surgery to repair the damage to her face and body. She has already undergone surgery to repair two detached retinas, something doctors told her would have blinded her had she not received treatment when she did.

The young woman appeared yesterday in court to watch the proceedings along with her mother.

Employees at the Den Mar Nursing Home in Gloucester have been accepting donations on her behalf.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.