SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 25, 2014

Judge rejects bail for ex-firefighter

SALEM — The former Salem fire lieutenant arrested last week on domestic abuse charges will remain in custody, after a Salem District Court judge concluded there is no alternative to protect his wife.

“I find no reasonable alternative other than detention,” said Judge Matthew Machera in ordering John O’Leary, 45, of 10 Wyman Drive, Salem, held without bail.

The judge rejected O’Leary’s attorney’s suggestion that the allegations, which cover a roughly two-year period after O’Leary was fired from the fire department, were prompted by O’Leary’s decision to contact the wife of a man with whom his wife had been having an extramarital relationship.

Police and prosecutors, however, say that O’Leary’s wife was in fear after O’Leary, who had moved out after a January incident that left his wife with a severe head wound, returned to their marital home earlier this month and refused to leave.

“This is somebody who’s not going to take no for an answer,” prosecutor Erin Bellavia said.

Bellavia argued that O’Leary’s wife chose not to report the abuse for fear of being seen as a victim and only went to police when she realized his behavior was escalating.

“She knows something bad is going to happen if (she) doesn’t get out of this situation,” argued the prosecutor. “This is somebody who has been living in a nightmare for the past two years.”

William O’Hare, O’Leary’s lawyer, said his client, who denies the allegations, has not shown any signs of losing control, pointing out that he’s been pursuing an appeal of his firing from the fire department. O’Leary, the former union president, was fired over allegations that he misused funds raised for a firefighters charity in 2012.

And, O’Hare said, it was his wife who strayed from the marriage, not O’Leary. “There’s no evidence he’s done anything to wreck that relationship,” said the lawyer, who urged the judge to release O’Leary.

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