Salem woman headed to prison for assaults on husband

Jillian Washburn, formerly of Salem, pleaded no contest Thursday in New London Superior Court to cutting the tip of her husband's penis with scissors two years ago.

Washburn, 35, also pleaded guilty to assaulting the victim over a period of time during which she was forcing him to wear a GoPro camera because she didn't trust him. Video evidence shows Washburn striking, beating and assaulting the victim, according to prosecutor David J. Smith.

Washburn, who is in the midst of a divorce and has since moved to Flushing, N.Y., was headed to trial when she accepted a plea deal worked out by Smith and defense attorney Donald Beebe during lengthy pretrial negotiations before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein.

She will be sentenced Jan. 31 to 18 years in prison, suspended after eight years served, followed by five years of probation, for second-degree assault, two counts of risk of injury to a minor because the pair's children witnessed parts of the attacks, and cruelty to persons.

She arrived in court Thursday with two women and sat quietly while the prosecutor recited the facts of what domestic violence advocates have said is proof that violence between intimate partners is not gender-exclusive.

The victim was not present in court for the plea hearing, but has been working with Victim Advocate Stephanie Barber and may attend the sentencing hearing. He has custody of their children.

"She took the scissors, she cut the top of his penis," the prosecutor said while reciting the facts of the case. "He went to the hospital and the bleeding was so severe (hospital staff) called the police."

Beebe briefly disputed Smith's rendition of the case, but Judge Strackbein told him, "Based on actual photos and things we've seen here, it was a cut on his penis." The judge said it would be up to the family court to decide whether Washburn will be able to have contact with her children when she is released from prison.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, state police started investigating after receiving a phone call on Nov. 27, 2015, from New York City police, who said the alleged victim was being treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital for injuries stemming from an assault that occurred the day before at the family home in Salem.

The husband told state police that Washburn, whom he had known since 2005, started abusing him in 2008, around the time he became addicted to video games. The man said the abuse escalated from slapping to hitting him with objects and her fists and that the children frequently witnessed Washburn hitting him. He said that on Nov. 26 she had struck him in the face multiple times, causing his mouth to bleed, assaulted him with a wire clothes hanger and hit him with a lint roller. He said she had cut the tip of his penis and stabbed him in the stomach with a pair of scissors.

The man said that in the past, Washburn had strangled him more than 30 times with her hand or a belt and had used items around the house as weapons, including knives, belts, broom handles, a wooden pole, a hot iron, a bed post, a fireplace poker and a fireplace shovel. He said she had inflicted on him cuts, burns, split lips, bruised bones and separated ear cartilage. The man said he had not reported anything in the past because he felt like he could deal with it and things would get better.

Portions of the Nov. 26 attack and other incidents were recorded with a GoPro video camera that the victim said Washburn made him wear because she did not trust him, according to the warrant application.

k.florin@theday.com

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