SALEM — Three months ago, a judge compared Joseph Louf to an “animal” that “needs to be caged,” after what the judge called one of the worst cases of domestic abuse he had seen.
But yesterday another judge came to a different conclusion, agreeing to release Louf from custody while he awaits trial on charges that he repeatedly beat his girlfriend, leaving her permanently disfigured and on the brink of blindness.
Salem Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead said he believes the testimony of the 29-year-old Gloucester woman who said Louf controlled nearly every aspect of her life, and humiliated her by telling her she didn’t “deserve someone as good as him.” But the judge concluded that Louf no longer poses a danger to her.
“My concern is not that he’s going to seek out (the former girlfriend),” said Whitehead. Instead, the judge suggested that Louf poses a danger to other women with whom he becomes involved.
So the judge ordered that Louf, 37, will be confined to his uncle’s Peabody home, monitored by a GPS bracelet, and barred from using the Internet and from having any women visit his home.
“I’m going to order that he not have any relationship with any woman,” said the judge.
Louf could be released as early as next week, if his family can come up with $1,000 bail.
The ruling followed a hearing where prosecutor Kate MacDougall asked that Whitehead keep Louf in custody as a danger to both the former girlfriend and to all women he encounters.
Louf, who until his arrest ran a mixed martial arts school in Beverly called American Total Defense, is facing charges that include attempted murder, mayhem (the intentional disfigurement of someone), and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury.
The woman suffered two detached retinas and severe facial injuries, including a broken nose and a missing piece of her lip, as well as disfigured ears, injuries Louf says she received while she was “sparring” at his school.