Last Monday 7th September 2015, was quite an emotional day for me. The man who has been terrorising my wife and by default our little family for the last 7 years, was put on trial for having given his former girlfriend the same treatment as he gave his then wife years before. His wife left him because of the years of physical and mental abuse, because of the many women with whom he cheated on her, because of the many days and nights she was left alone to raise their three children, because of the lies he had been telling her every single day about the most trivial things, because of his dominant ego that did not allow challenge, because of his unrelenting alcohol abuse, and for many more reasons.
In previous posts I wrote about domestic violence, and about him. It turned out he had been cheating on his former girlfriend with at least 10 women at the same time when she found all the messages he sent them on his mobile phone, including close up videos of him ‘spanking the monkey’. When she confronted him with this in June 2014 he did not react, so she shoved him while he laid in bed. She wanted to provoke a reaction but she never expected him to react the way he did. The medical exam found bruises on her neck where he tried to strangle her, a broken eye orbit, a broken nose, a broken lower jaw, a concussion, several bruises and cuts, etc.. Their 5 kids (3 of him, 2 hers) saw her running with her blood-soaked front out of the bedroom… The kids saved her life by yelling and crying, which gave her the opportunity to escape out of the house.
So yesterday morning we gathered at the entrance of the Ghent courthouse to witness the fall of this violent man. His former girlfriend was of course there, as being his victim. Two colleagues and a friend of her were there too, as was I. My wife could not take the day off from work, but as a former victim she was continuously kept up-to-date by me via cellphone, and she could not concentrate on her work by the stress this event generated and the painful memories coming back to her.
First the counsellor for the victim started his plea. The accused had also filed a complaint against his victim saying she hit him, and she violated his privacy by opening his mail on his phone, trying to counter the charges against him. The victim confirmed she ‘hit’ him by giving him a shove after he refused to answer her questions about his many affairs she just found out. The judges seemed well informed about the case, and listened attentively to the victim’s counselor plea.
Then came the prosecutor. The courtroom went quiet when the prosecutor demanded a jail sentence of 10 months, a fine (I could not clearly understand the amount), and all charges against the victim dropped. My confidence in Belgian justice has always been close to nonexistent after all the years we lived in terror by this guy without justice nor police intervening despite our numerous complaints (they even dropped the case when my wife was hit unconscious on the street in front of their own children two years after their divorce), but the prosecutors stance revived my hopes.
And then it was the turn of the defendant’s counselor to plea. She demanded the court that the charges against her client would be dropped, and that his victim would be convicted because it was she who hit him first, and he couldn’t respond in no other way than hitting her back, thus making it legal self-defense. The counselor admitted that her client was not physically hurt by the ‘hits’ of his then-girlfriend, but abstraction should be made from the incurred consequences. The faces of the judges changed into disbelief. The President of the Court started attacking the defendant’s counselor, asking if she had clearly seen the pictures of his victim, and if she was trying in any way to deny the horrible things her client had done to his victim? The counselor stammered and tried to talk herself out of this but to no avail, the President was clearly irritated and agitated by her plea.
The defendant was given the chance to speak up, and the judges seemed at first rather friendly, asking him if he had anything to add to his counselor’s plea. He started to apologize for what happened to his victim, but explained he had suffered so much in the past year because of his name being dragged trough the mud and his ex-wife giving him a hard time. The President asked him if he really felt sorry, and the accused confirmed. Then the president asked him how this could be reconciled with the fact that he pleaded not guilty and indicted his victim for having committed a crime against him. How could you feel sorry when you tried to invoke legitimate self-defense? Why feel sorry if you say you did nothing wrong? The accused was cornered and could not find the words any more, for every time he declared something the President attacked him on that. It was a rather unfair fight but it raised my spirits.
During the verbal beating by the President all the lies and flaws in the story of the defendant were uncovered, one by one, and in the end no one present in the courtroom could believe any word of that man any more. He tried to explain that his alcohol abuse was the fault of his ex-wife who left him, the same for his sex-addiction. But that he went to a psychiatrist to let himself be helped. Direct questions by the President as to who did the therapy and where and when were answered by evasive responses, just like all questions asked by the judges. It all became too much for him and he asked the court to be allowed to be seated for he felt ’sick’. When asked a direct question about his cheating he tried to get off the hook by stating that he would not answer that question “out of respect” for his ex-girlfriend. And he tried to wriggle himself out a few times by saying that he would give ‘one example’ but that the same happened dozens of times. I thought every time again the President of the Court would explode. He demanded proof but none could be given by the accused, even not a simple proof of the one example the defendant brought up.
This was clearly one of the few times in his life he did not manage to impress a counterpart by his lies, a completely new situation for him I guess. The standard tactic of him had always been to give a little example, mostly a lie, and then to emphasise the same had happened so many times he could give dozens of examples. This sometimes followed by the statement that he would not do that ‘out of respect’ for this or that person, that way closing off any further inquiries into that matter and selling his lies as a credible fact. As long as people did not go to much into detail he managed to keep up the smoke curtain. Whenever people asked too many questions, he just broke off contact, or in the case of women, he just beat them up if he got a chance.
The defendant lost his arrogance, convinced of his righteousness at the start of the court session, and broke up in tears. Completely overwhelmed by frustration of not being able to show the judges his presumed innocence, and completely cornered by his own contradicting words that led the judges not to believe any word from him any more. He sat down repeatedly rubbing his face in his hands. It was quite an emotional sight for me to see this, and tears flowed from my cheeks as all the pains and fears incurred in the past seven years seemed to come out. Of course his tears were not out of remorse, they were tears out of self-pity for the whole world seemed to be against him with nobody understanding nor believing him.
The court concluded the accused always took the time to scrutinize others to lay the blame upon them, but constantly avoided to look at himself and to search for the reasons of his problems in his own behavior. And he clearly did not show any genuine regrets about what happened. The defendant replied in tears he was sorry, but the President pointed out the complaints he filed just two months before against his victim (he did this one year after the facts and after having read the charges against him, so he could counter the charges by trying to blame the other – bad move…) and his demand he would be exonerated while she should be punished.
Just when the President wanted to finish the hearings the prosecutor intervened. Dismayed by the pertinent lies and the complete lack of any sense of guilt by the defendant, she demanded that the jail sentence should be given effectively, and that she would strongly oppose a suspended sentence.
We, friends of the victim, stood up and positioned ourselves in the corridor the defendant would have to use to leave the courtroom, thus forcing him to look into our eyes as he passed us. I have never seen him looking so pale and shocked. The fact that he could be punished for his deeds was unthinkable for him, he always looked at his surroundings as ‘him against the world’, or rather ‘the world against him’, but with him being the best and smartest, superior to all and invincible.
Unsurprisingly no one turned up at court to support him. With so many women thinking he was having a relationship with them, with all his family, friends and colleagues, at least someone should have offered to show up to comfort him. Many of them knew he had to appear in court that day, I made sure they knew… Surely he told them off, with whatever excuse for he absolutely did not want others to hear the truth about him. Especially his relatives and his drinking buddies hiding under the pseudo-philantropic organisation called Kiwanis Gent disappointed me. The Kiwanis declared, when confronted by the last beaten-up victim (she showed up at one of their meetings with her bruises, swollen lips, darkened eyes, her facial cuts) of their candidate-chairman that: “their friend and colleague was in need, and they would do whatever they could to help him”. Never mind the victims thus… But maybe they were too scared to find out the truth about him in court?
The court will present the final sentence on the – for us – historical day of September 21st, 2015.
Last Friday I sent the defendant a mail with a prediction. My prediction was he would be convicted by court, and that he himself would help the court convict him. My prediction came true. His own lies and contradictory declarations served him badly, as did his poor attempt to reverse charges on his victim.
I will make sure the world knows what he has done, and what his punishment is. Even if I do know I might be breaking the law doing this. But when we needed the law to protect us, they were not there, except for seven years later and for another one of his victims. Last time my wife filed complaint against him for stalking (at least once a week he sends text messages in the middle of the night usually starting with something like “I love you even more than before”, and ending up one hour later with: “you bitch, you killed your family!!”) the police told her “to come back in one year if he persisted in his behavior”. But if he expects this to be the last lawsuit against him, I can reassure him this is just the beginning. Our children need protection from this monster. As do his future victims, which could be any living woman on earth.
We will not forgive. We will not forget. Expect us.
Love ❤️, yann.