Salem woman sentenced for battering husband, cutting tip of his penis

A man who was tortured for years by his wife, Jillian Washburn, says she continued to abuse him even after she was arrested in December 2015 for cutting off the tip of his penis and battering him repeatedly in front of their children. 

The 36-year-old mother of two children was sentenced Monday in New London Superior Court to eight years in prison, followed by five years of probation. She had pleaded no contest in November 2017 to two counts of risk of injury to a minor, second-degree assault and cruelty to persons.

Wearing a puffy green winter coat and accompanied to her sentencing hearing by her parents, Washburn read a prepared statement in which she apologized to her children for making them witness the conduct that occurred in the family's home in Salem.

To the victim, she said, "I'm deeply sorry our relationship became what it was." Washburn said she has been undergoing therapy since she was arrested and is taking her therapist's phone number with her to the Janet S. York Correctional Institution.

In a written victim impact statement to the court, the husband, who did not attend the hearing, said that during the couple's pending divorce proceedings, he has been subjected to seven legal depositions during which he was harassed and forced to relive the abuse by watching it on video. He said he walked out of one hearing, traumatized, and was required to pay $1,500 for the missed session. He said Washburn has failed to take responsibility for her actions and has "dodged and waffled and lied" so much that she now believes she has done no harm.

"I want Jillian to be kept away from my children," the husband wrote. "She has done terrible things and now she's going to pay for it."

He wrote that during the couple's relationship, he wasn't allowed to have friends and his contact with family members was heavily censored by his wife. He was working from home at the time of his wife's arrest.

The case followed the classic patterns of domestic violence, even though the female was the batterer and the male the victim, according to prosecutor David J. Smith. While the case was pending, Smith said he reviewed thousands of hours of abuse that was captured on video, since Washburn had forced the victim to wear a GoPro camera because she didn't trust him.

The footage showed Washburn punching her husband, cutting his penis and sexually assaulting him with a wire hanger, Smith said.

"There are literally hundreds of incidents of assault and degradation, and the children were present," Smith said. 

Washburn's attorney, Donald R. Beebe, denied the abuse allegations and said the couple was engaged in a sadomasochistic relationship in which the husband directed the wife to abuse him.

"The victim is the victim," Smith said. "He didn't want it. He didn't request it. He didn't call for it. It was ongoing and abusive."

Beebe said the video shows the husband providing Washburn with cues indicating he wanted to be assaulted and that the husband described himself in emails as a "self-injurer." Beebe said the husband was diagnosed as such by a mental health professional in New York and that he transferred the desire for self-harm "by proxy" to his wife.

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 his penis injury that occurred the day before at the family home. According to testimony, Washburn forced the husband to drive the family to her parents' home in New York and the husband sneaked out to seek medical help.

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. He said that on Nov. 26, 2015, 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.

He said 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. 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.

Attorney Lori K. Hellum, acting as guardian ad litem for the children, said the kids, who were 6 and 8 years old when their mother was arrested, began "blossoming" in their school performance and ability to interact with people after Washburn was removed from the home. Hellum said there has been limited contact between the children and their mother, and that family court personnel have determined it's currently not in the children's best interest to interact with their mother.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said, in imposing the sentence, that nobody on the outside fully understands "the machinations of what goes on in a relationship."

The judge issued a permanent protective order forbidding Washburn to have any kind of contact with the victim. She said a protective order currently prohibits Washburn from having contact with the children, but that the family court would ultimately decide whether visitation and access with them is appropriate.

k.florin@theday.com

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