, Salem, MA

Local News

June 12, 2014

Martial arts teacher denied release again

SALEM — A judge on Thursday said no for the final time to a plan to release a mixed martial arts instructor accused of repeatedly abusing his girlfriend, leaving her disfigured and nearly blind.

Joseph Louf, 37, had been asking, through his attorney, for permission to live with his mother under house arrest while awaiting trial on charges that include attempted murder and mayhem.

He was arrested in March after the woman disclosed to family members that while she was living with Louf in Salem for more than a year, he beat her, forced her to engage in strenuous activity, and controlled her interactions with the outside world. She was left with two detached retinas, “cauliflower ear,” and a repeatedly broken nose, among other injuries.

Salem Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead initially said yes to a plan for Louf to live with his uncle in Peabody, but when that plan fell through, the judge had second thoughts.

Those concerns were bolstered by new information recently obtained by police about two women in Florida with whom Louf had relationships, in 2004 and 2008.

The first woman contacted Salem police to report not only that Louf had abused her in a similar way during their time together, but that the relationship between Louf and his mother was strained as a result of childhood abuse by one of the mother’s boyfriends.

Salem police then contacted a woman who had obtained a restraining order against Louf four years later, and she offered a similar account.

Prosecutor Kate MacDougall vehemently opposed any proposal to release Louf to stay with his mother, arguing that the woman “is not capable of controlling his behavior,” and in fact is “very much tied into the defendant’s behavior.”

Louf’s lawyer, Ray Buso, called the prosecution’s characterization “very, very unfair.”

Whitehead, however, said he shared the prosecutor’s concerns.

The judge went on to note that he was troubled by the actions of Louf’s mother at the end of a recent hearing, when she “stormed” out of the courtroom when Louf was not released.

“You don’t do that in a courtroom,” said Whitehead. “You just don’t.”

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

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