, Salem, MA

February 4, 2014

Judge calls abuse case "worst" he's seen

Julie Manganis


Calling it "the worst case of ongoing and systematic domestic violence I've seen," a Salem District Court judge ordered that a Salem mixed martial arts instructor remain held without bail on charges that he left his girlfriend disfigured by a series of beatings. 

Judge Robert Brennan compared Joseph Louf, 37, to an animal that needs to be caged not only to protect his now-former girlfriend, but all women, following a hearing this morning, where he found that Louf poses a danger if released. 

Louf's attorney, meanwhile, argued that the woman's injuries, including repeated broken noses, two detached retinas, and damage to her ears, were the result of her participation in mixed-martial arts fighting. 

"My client is an innocent man," lawyer Joseph Simons told reporters outside court. "He's being charged with crimes he did not commit." 

But prosecutor Kate MacDougall argued that the young woman was essentially a "hostage," intentionally estranged from her family by Louf, who controlled her social media pages and phone. 

"She was an absolute slave to this defendant," said MacDougall, who compared her situation to victims of kidnappings who come to identify with the hostage-taker, something called "Stockholm Syndrome." 

The victim, who appeared painfully thin and frail, wore sunglasses as she testified to protect her eyes from light, following surgery to repair her detached retinas. 

She testified that doctors say she would have gone blind had she not obtained treatment when she did. 

For more on this story, see tomorrow's Salem News and

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