Appeals Court of Massachusetts.Jun 13, 2012
968 N.E.2d 942 (Mass. App. Ct. 2012)
968 N.E.2d 94281 Mass. App. Ct. 1142

No. 11–P–1928.





The defendant, Ed Farley, appeals from a District Court judge's decision to extend an abuse prevention order pursuant to G.L. c. 209A. The complainant, Amy Robinson, is the defendant's ex-girlfriend. Farley argues that Robinson failed to demonstrate that she had a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm necessary to extend the order. We affirm.

Under G.L. c. 209A, § 1, a protective order can be obtained against someone “for placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm.” “The burden is on the complainant to establish facts justifying the issuance and continuance of an abuse prevention order.” Frizado v. Frizado, 420 Mass. 592, 596 (1995). “The complainant's fears must be more than subjective and unspecified; viewed objectively the plaintiff's apprehension that force may be used must be reasonable.” Smith v. Jones, 75 Mass.App.Ct. 540, 543 (2009) (citations and quotations omitted).

Here, Robinson established that she objectively had a reasonable fear of imminent physical harm from Farley. Robinson testified that Farley “accosted me outside my place of work one evening.” He approached her vehicle “in a very threatening” and “very aggressive manner” and called her a “sick fucking little piece of Jew.” She also testified that Farley “was leaning physically into my car” and “I did feel threatened.” Thereafter, Farley continued to show up unannounced at Robinson's workplace and also sent her “over 125 emails and texts” which alternated between abusive language demanding that Robinson apologize and apologies from Farley demanding that Robinson marry him. Farley also showed up at Robinson's home and strewed her front porch with rose petals and left an engagement ring in her mailbox. He told Robinson that she was his “bride” despite her repeated rejections. Robinson testified that “Mr. Farley's behavior is sort of like a Jekyll and Hyde. At times he seems very calm, very, you know, reasonable, and then at times his anger and the rage comes out, and it's very scary when it happens.”

The confluence of these events justified extension of the order. The judge heard from both parties and was in a superior position to ours to gauge their demeanor and comportment. See B.B.V. v. B.S.V., 68 Mass.App.Ct. 12, 18–19 (2006); S.T. v. E.M., 80 Mass.App.Ct. 423, 429 (2011). Viewed objectively, Robinson's apprehension that Farley posed an imminent serious physical danger was reasonable.

Order extending abuse prevention order affirmed.