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Prosecutors seek to admit accusations of past abuse in Petetit domestic violence trial 

SLO County prosecutors are asking a judge to allow them to include past allegations of violent domestic abuse in their case against a local developer accused of beating one of his former girlfriends.

In recent court filings, the SLO County District Attorney's Office said it wanted to present jurors with allegations from two additional women who said that the defendant, Ryan Joseph Petetit, verbally and physically abused them while they were dating him. The prosecution's filings stated that one of those women also claimed that Petetit tried to pay her $250,000 to stay silent about her allegations of abuse against him.

ALLEGATIONS SLO prosecutors want to present potential jurors with two additional women who claimed they'd been physically abused by local developer Ryan Petetit. One of those women accused Petit of offering her $250,000 to stay silent about her abuse. - FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • File Photo By Steve E. Miller
  • ALLEGATIONS SLO prosecutors want to present potential jurors with two additional women who claimed they'd been physically abused by local developer Ryan Petetit. One of those women accused Petit of offering her $250,000 to stay silent about her abuse.

Petetit is facing multiple felony charges for allegedly attacking his then girlfriend, identified only as Jane Doe 1, at an Arroyo Grande home in November 2015. According to prosecutors, Petetit had been drinking and became angry with the woman, choking her, slapping her, and slamming her head against a tile floor.

The SLO County DA's Office said Petetit inflicted similar abuse on two other women he dated previously. In its court filing, the women are referred to as Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3. Jane Doe 3 dated Petetit from 2010 to 2012 and claims that he strangled, pushed, and kicked her in the head. Jane Doe 2 was in a relationship with Petetit between 2012 and 2014. She claims that Petetit also verbal and physically abused her during the relationship, saying he gabbed her by the throat, pushed her against walls, and slammed her head against a concrete bench.

"From this evidence it is clear that he has an intense need to control and dominate women he is in relationships with," SLO County Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel wrote in an Oct. 25 motion. "[Petetit] expresses this need through physically assaulting women."

Petetit pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. An Oct. 25 trial brief from his defense lawyer, Patrick L. Fisher, questioned the credibility of the two women who accused Petetit of abusing them in past relationships. He noted that Jane Doe 3 had a domestic battery conviction on her record, and that witnesses would testify that she was violent, vindictive, and dishonest. Fisher said that Jane Doe 3's accusations were not credible because they involved an ongoing lawsuit against Petetit. Court records show that Michelle Jewsbury, who wrote a book and play about her experience in the abusive relationship, is still pursuing her civil lawsuit against Petetit.

"Ms. Jewsbury's credibility will be impeached with the fact that she is suing Mr. Petetit [and] seeking $10 [million] for, among other things, jewelry he did not buy her, a house he did not build her, and exotic vacations on which he did not take her," Fisher wrote.

Court filings from the prosecution indicate that Petetit may have tried to pay Jewsbury to keep quiet about the abuse she experienced. In December 2015, after the incident that lead to his arrest, Deputy DA Imel wrote that Petetit allegedly paid off $8,000 in Jewsbury's credit card debt, and later offer her $250,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she declined.

Fisher declined to comment on the record for this story. Petetit's trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 27.

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