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State v. T.G.

September 21, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
T.G., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Atlantic County, Docket No. FO-01-215-08.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 9, 2009

Before Judges Payne and Waugh.

Defendant, T.G., appeals from judgments of conviction entered by a judge of the Family Part, following a bench trial, declaring him guilty of contempt arising from violation of a final restraining order (FRO) entered under the provisions of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991*fn1 , N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, and harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4a. On appeal, defendant makes the following arguments:

A. THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY FOUND DEFENDANT - APPELLANT GUILTY BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT A FINDING THAT DEFENDANT'S PURPOSE WAS TO HARASS [S.G.] OR THAT DEFENDANT - APPELLANT COMMITTED AN ACT OF HARASSMENT.

1. THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY FOUND DEFENDANT - APPELLANT GUILTY OF VIOLATING AN ORDER ENTERED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT WHEN IT FAILED TO FIND THAT DEFENDANT - APPELLANT ACTED WITH A PURPOSE TO HARASS.

2. THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY FOUND DEFENDANT - APPELLANT GUILTY OF HARASSMENT WHEN THE TRIAL COURT DETERMINED DEFENDANT - APPELLANT UTTERED INTENSIVELY COARSE LANGUAGE AND NEVER DETERMINED AN INTENT TO HARASS.

Following our review of the arguments of counsel in light of the record on appeal and applicable precedent, we affirm.

The record reflects that, on December 3, 2007, an FRO was entered against defendant that, among other things, prohibited him from "having any (oral, written, personal, electronic or other) form of contact or communication with" his then-wife, S.G.; prohibited harassment of her; and prohibited him from following her.

At the time the FRO was entered, the parties had separated, having done so in July 2007, following an approximately nine-year marriage and the birth of two children: a girl, age 8, and a boy, age 6. On January 5, 2008, both S.G. and defendant attended a basketball game at a local church, in which their son was to play and their daughter was to perform as a cheerleader. S.G. was accompanied at the game by her fifteen-year-old son, her mother, and her boyfriend, W.F., the coach of the younger son's basketball team. S.G. acted as the cheerleading coach. Defendant, who had custody of the younger two children that day,*fn2 was accompanied by his stepdaughter and her baby.

The record establishes that, following destruction of the parties' home by fire, a two-year period in which S.G. was believed to be suffering from a fatal illness, the rebuilding of the parties' home, and the establishment of S.G. in business, S.G. engaged in a year-long affair with W.F., commencing in May 2006. The affair was discovered by defendant in May 2007, and its existence, in defendant's words, "splintered" the family.

The basketball game provided the first opportunity for defendant to see S.G. with W.F. At first, matters were amicable. According to defendant's testimony, S.G. greeted defendant as he entered the gym, and she spoke to him again at the midpoint and at the end of the game. Defendant testified that S.G. and W.F. could be seen kissing and hugging during the course of the game. At its conclusion, S.G. and W.F. left the gym with the daughter and proceeded down a hallway to the church's nursery for an awards ceremony focused on the cheerleaders. Rather than waiting at the gym or church door, defendant followed ...


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