NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted April 23, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Somerset County, Docket No. FV-18-0293-12.
R.P.G., appellant pro se.
J.D.G., respondent pro se, has not filed a brief.
Before Judges Lihotz and Ostrer.
Defendant R.P.G. appeals from a final restraining order, entered pursuant to the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. Defendant contends the Family Part judge erred in relying on allegations plaintiff J.D.G. had previously included when she filed a Pennsylvania protection from abuse (PFA) petition, which was dismissed with prejudice. We disagree and affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Thomas C. Miller.
Plaintiff and defendant were married and residing in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. They have three teenage children. On August 18, 2011, plaintiff filed a petition for PFA in the Court of Common Pleas, Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleged defendant's conduct the prior evening equated to a sexual assault and maintained relief was necessary because "an immediate and present danger of further abuse from the [d]efendant" was presented.
Following ex parte review of plaintiff's petition, a temporary order was entered restraining defendant from committing further acts of abuse along with other relief. The final hearing was scheduled for August 22, 2011. On that date, defendant represented by counsel appeared, as did plaintiff's counsel. However, plaintiff did not. Consequently, the judge dismissed the petition with prejudice.
On September 13, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint seeking relief pursuant to the PDVA in the Family Part, Somerset County. A temporary restraining order (TRO) was entered based on plaintiff's allegations of defendant's conduct on August 12, 13, 14, and 18, 2011, which she characterized as "sexual assault" and "harassment." A TRO was entered.
On September 19, 2011, after defendant was served with the initial TRO, plaintiff and her attorney appeared before the court, ex parte, requesting to amend the complaint. Specifically, she sought to add defendant's alleged abusive sexual conduct of August 17, 2011, as a basis for relief, and to include prior acts of domestic violence by defendant occurring in the summer of 2007, July 2008, and July 2011. The Family Part judge considered plaintiff's testimony, granted her request, and entered an amended TRO. The final hearing remained as originally scheduled on September 22, 2011.
The parties appeared on the scheduled hearing date and trial commenced. Plaintiff testified, relating the incidents she alleged presented the need for the entry of a final restraining order (FRO). Although she did not provide a time period, she stated the parties had had marital difficulties, but remained in the same home. In fact, plaintiff was involved with another, H.M. Plaintiff, accompanied by H.M., met with defendant to discuss separation and divorce. Defendant offered two choices: H.M. could move in and she, along with plaintiff, could sleep with him, or, for six months, he would look for work and plaintiff would have to provide sex on demand. At the end on the six-month period, he would move out, leaving the children in plaintiff's care and transfer title of the house to plaintiff. Plaintiff, fearing she would lose her children if she left, agreed to the latter arrangement. Later that evening, on two separate occasions, defendant ordered plaintiff to the bedroom for intercourse.
On August 17, plaintiff arrived home from work and noticed defendant had been drinking. As she attempted to prepare dinner, he held money in his hand and ordered her to the bedroom. She complied. He said "here's $300 for food shopping. Here's [$]100 for [each child] for school." He ordered plaintiff to perform fellatio. She complied "in order to fulfill the deal, " but not because she wanted to. The following morning plaintiff told defendant she was leaving to visit her parents. He demanded she engage in sex; she declined and called 911. Defendant ordered plaintiff to leave the home, stating "I knew you couldn't hold up your end of the deal . . . . Then if ...