Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Domestic Relations Division Case No. DV-18-374550
Kronenberg Belovich Law, L.L.C., and Jacob A.H. Kronenberg,
& Rich Co., L.P.A., Deanna L. Dipetta, and Jonathan A.
Rich, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
T. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE
1} Respondent-appellant, S.V.E
("Husband"), appeals a judgment of the Cuyahoga
County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division,
granting a domestic violence civil protection order
("CPO") against him and in favor of
petitioner-appellee, S.E.E. ("Wife"). He claims the
following three errors:
1. The trial court's determination that there was
sufficient credible evidence to prove that appellee was in
danger of domestic violence and therefore in need of a
protection order to prevent abuse is against the manifest
weight of the evidence.
2. The trial court's determination that appellee proved
by a preponderance of the evidence that she had been a victim
of domestic violence under RC. 3113.31 is against the
manifest weight of the evidence.
3.The trial court's determination that there was a
"history of control" and "past acts of
violence against appellee" which justified the issuance
of a civil protection order was against the manifest weight
of the evidence.
2} We find no merit to the appeal and affirm the
trial court's judgment. The manifest weight of the
evidence supports the trial court's finding that Husband
committed prior acts of domestic violence against Wife and
that Husband posed a threat of future violence that justified
the need for a CPO.
Facts and Procedural History
3} On November 27, 2018, Wife filed a petition
seeking a CPO against Husband on behalf of herself and her
two children due to alleged acts of domestic violence. A
magistrate granted an ex parte temporary protection order and
scheduled a full hearing on the matter in January 2019. Wife
subsequently withdrew her request to include the children as
protected parties under any order, whether the temporary
order then in place or any future order that might be entered
after the hearing.
4} Wife testified at the hearing that she and
Husband were married in June 2012, and subsequently had two
children, C.E., who was two years old, and Z.E., who was five
months old. Wife described several incidents during the
marriage that she believes constituted domestic abuse. She
testified that during an argument that occurred before the
children were born, Husband grabbed her by the throat,
carried her a few steps, and threw her on the couch. (Tr.
17.) He then asked her to apologize for causing him to do
those things. (Tr. 17.) When Wife was pregnant with C.E.,
Husband threw a box at her head and asked Wife to apologize
for causing that incident as well. (Tr. 17-18.) After Z.E.
was born in June 2018, Husband pinched Wife's arm hard
enough to cause three bruises. (Tr. 18, 139.)
5} Wife finally decided to seek a protection order
and a divorce in November 2018, following an incident at a
Saturday night birthday party for Husband's brother
("M.E."). Husband's mother, M.B., and her
boyfriend of 11 years, P.K., hosted the party at M.B.'s
house on November 17, 2018. Husband and Wife attended the
party with their children, and M.E. attended the party with
his wife, N.E.
6} After dinner, but before serving birthday cake,
everyone left the dinner table except for Husband and Wife.
Wife put her head on Husband's shoulder, and he pushed it
off. (Tr. 9.) Wife thought he was joking so she again placed
her head on his shoulder, and he again pushed it off.
Thereafter, Husband grabbed Wife, and she tried to pull away.
Husband reached over and squeezed her neck for several
seconds in the presence of P.K., who was still in the room.
(Tr. 10.) Wife explained:
In order to get him to let go, I was able to whisper,
basically, that he was hurting me; and a few seconds later he
finally let go.
And then afterwards, he told me that I needed to apologize,
because it was my fault that he did that to me, and I was
ruining his night.
(Tr. 11.) Wife apologized because she "wanted the night
to go smoothly." (Tr. 11.) Thereafter, family
photographs were taken and cake was served. Wife testified
that after the cake, she went to the bathroom because she
"had a few tears" and wanted to shake it off so she
could "put on a happy face and get through the
night." (Tr. 136.) Wife pretended to be happy,
explaining at the hearing "I knew that if I acted any
other way, things would be far worse for me when I got
home." (Tr. 138.) She further stated: "In the past
when I confronted my husband about a situation that I
didn't like, he only ever escalated it to make it worse
until I backed off and said I was sorry." (Tr. 146.)
7} Later that night, when Husband and Wife were in
bed falling asleep, Husband rolled over and pinched
Wife's nostrils closed. (Tr. 13.) Wife opened her mouth
so she could breathe, and Husband let go, rolled over, and
went to sleep. (Tr. 13.) Thereafter, Wife went to the
bathroom and cried for about an hour. Wife ultimately
returned to the marital bed, but slept "on the four
inches of the mattress closest to the edge" because she
"was afraid." (Tr. 45.)
8} Husband was angry the next morning and repeatedly
tried to draw Wife into an argument. He complained that the
freezer was not organized, that Wife was not taking proper
care of the children, and that Wife did not clean the house
the way she said she would. (Tr. 14.) According to Wife,
Husband was "regularly critical of [her]." (Tr.
14.) Wife nevertheless initiated sex with Husband that
afternoon while the children were napping. (Tr. 51.)
9} The next morning, a Monday, Husband woke Wife up,
yelled at her, and whipped a sock into her eye because she
mismatched two gray socks. (Tr. 14-15.) He was also angry
because there were not enough lids for all the baby bottles
in the cupboard. He blamed Wife for the missing lids, saying
this was never a problem until Wife started picking up the
children from daycare. (Tr. 15.) Later, Husband expressed his
displeasure after Wife opened a dog gate that allowed their
dog to enter the family room where he ate their two-year-old
daughter's cereal. (Tr. 15-16.)
10} When asked on cross-examination why Wife
returned to the marital bed after Husband allegedly choked
her at the party, Wife explained that she was afraid that
sleeping in another room "would have made things
worse." (Tr. 51.) When Husband's lawyer suggested
that Wife must not have been afraid because she did not leave
the house, Wife replied: "I was afraid, but I didn't
know what my rights were so I wasn't willing to take a
risk until after I knew." (Tr. 50.) Indeed, after
consulting with an attorney and "the abuse hotline"
on Monday morning, Wife decided not to return to the marital
home. (Tr. 54-55.) Although Husband and Wife had planned to