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C.M.M. v. Ditroia

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 15, 2013

C.M.M., [1] Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
DWAYNE DITROIA, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 22, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cape May County, Docket No. FV-05-483-12.

Anthony J. Harvatt, II, attorney for appellant.

Respondent C.M.M. has not filed a brief.

Before Judges Graves and Espinosa.

PER CURIAM

Defendant appeals from the entry of a final restraining order issued pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -34, based upon a finding that defendant committed the predicate act of harassment. We affirm.

Defendant acknowledges that he and plaintiff began a dating relationship in 2011 and became engaged to be married. In March 2012, after he purchased an engagement ring, wedding ring, and paid deposits for plaintiff's wedding dress and the wedding venue, defendant cancelled the wedding.

In April 2012, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, alleging he had committed the predicate offense of harassment and seeking a restraining order. In her complaint, she stated that defendant came to her place of employment on April 11, 2012. When she attempted to avoid him, he asked her co-worker personal questions about her. The police were called. Plaintiff also alleged that defendant had been sending her numerous text messages, phone calls, and voicemail messages since their relationship ended.

Plaintiff described a prior history of domestic violence in her complaint as well. She said defendant was "very controlling" during their relationship. Among the examples she included were: he refused to allow her to hang out with her male friends; told her how to dress and act; did not allow her to hang out at bars; she had to check in with him wherever she went; and he would show up to confirm she was where she reported she was. Plaintiff also alleged that defendant "got into [her] face during verbal altercations, smacked a bottle [of] water across the room [and] has done other gestures to intimidate" her, despite her telling him his actions scared her and that she had been abused by her ex-husband. Plaintiff also cited an incident when defendant brought a pan of ziti to the residence of a male friend, Jim, with whom he had accused her of having an affair, shortly after Jim's mother passed away. While there, defendant asked Jim for personal information about plaintiff.

A temporary restraining order was issued on April 11, 2012. The trial court conducted a hearing on April 18, 2012.

Plaintiff testified that defendant broke off their engagement on March 23, 2012, and said their relationship was over. However, the following day, he began calling and texting her. She went out to dinner with her friend, Christine Rothwell, and when they returned to her house, defendant was parked in her driveway. She did not want to go home while he was there so they kept riding around until they saw him leave. Rothwell testified about this incident and said plaintiff "was afraid to go home because of the constant texting and she was afraid that he was going to show up there."

Plaintiff testified that, after that night, there were a number of calls and text messages asking her to come back to defendant. She said she told him it was over and then did not answer his phone calls. She warned him not to stop by her house or her place of business because she did not want problems at either place and would call the police if he did. When she did reply to him, plaintiff said she asked him to "please stop . . . please stop texting [her], please leave [her] alone, please seek help . . . ." Plaintiff testified that defendant's mood went "up and down" during the text messages, and that he told her "he was going to come to Cape May every Friday and Saturday to look for [her] to see who [she was] with and what [she was] doing, which . . . scared [her]." She blocked his home, ...


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