RENEE ORDWAY

Bangor murder case shows men can be victims of domestic violence

Posted June 06, 2014, at 1:39 p.m.
Renee Ordway
Courtesy of Renee Ordway
Renee Ordway
Roxanne Jeskey stands up after hearing  her verdict of guilty by Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter in the murder of her husband Richard &quotRick" Jeskey.
Brian Feulner | BDN
Roxanne Jeskey stands up after hearing her verdict of guilty by Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter in the murder of her husband Richard "Rick" Jeskey. Buy Photo

There may be no way for us to know exactly what was going on in the lives of Richard and Roxanne Jeskey during the days that led up to his brutal murder inside the couple’s Ohio Street apartment three years ago.

We simply know how it ended, and that was barbaric.

Roxanne Jeskey recently was found guilty of her husband’s murder, with a judge dismissing the notion she was legally “insane” at the time. She awaits sentencing.

Shortly after the judge deemed her guilty, I received an email questioning where the domestic violence crowd was before, during and after the trial.

The suggestion being that because this was a case of a woman killing a male partner, the ‘DV’ professionals in the state were not terribly interested.

There was no indication of prior abuse to Roxanne Jeskey by her husband. The judge rejected any suggestion of self-defense as a motive for the murder.

Statistically it will be logged as a domestic violence homicide.

So where were they?

It turns out they were paying attention. They were watching and having discussions, but there were a number of unknown variables, including Roxanne Jeskey’s mental capacity, according to Julia Colpitts, executive director of the Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence.

Prior to the homicide, it would appear there was no contact regarding the couple with any domestic violence resource center and there was no evidence leading up to the trial about a pattern of domestic violence in the household.

“We don’t do ‘cold’ outreach in homicide cases,” Colpitts said. “If there is no involvement prior to the homicide, we don’t chase prosecutions. … We certainly discussed it but didn’t really see any entry point here, in part because there were so many things that were unknown,” she said.

The murder of Richard Jeskey legally will be classified as domestic homicide, but the MCEDV defines domestic violence as “a pattern of coercive behavior used by one person in a relationship to gain and maintain power and control over the other person.”

“Domestic abuse is not a fight, an isolated incidence of anger, or what happens when a person is out of control,” the MCEDV website states. “In some cases, in fact in many cases, it is not known whether a pattern of coerciveness and control were occurring in the relationship prior to the homicide.”

Also it should be noted that when a domestic violence homicide does occur, the domestic violence professionals often speak out only when asked to by the media for news stories.

In the Jeskey case?

“No one called,” Colpitts said.

Statistics on reported domestic violence indicate that 85 percent of victims are women, Colpitts said, and 15 percent of victims are male — the largest majority report their abuser is a man.

There is domestic violence occurring in same-sex relationships, and the national reporting data is beginning to reflect that, she said.

Across the state, officials at many domestic violence resource centers have altered or changed the names of those centers to better reflect their mission of providing help to all domestic violence victims, Colpitts said.

In Androscoggin County, the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project has become Safe Voices. Next Step for Women in Washington and Hancock counties has become the Next Step Domestic Violence Project.

“We have services for victims of domestic violence whether male or female, and we certainly encourage any victim to reach out to us. Even if you are just questioning whether what you are experiencing is abuse, call us and we can help you,” she said.

While national or state statistics do not demonstrate a remarkable number of men being abused by their female partners, the pages of newspapers across the country certainly show proof that women can be violent.

There are certainly strong feelings among experts that male victims are more hesitant to report that abuse, especially by a female partner, for a variety of reasons, including embarrassment and shame.

They should know all contact with a domestic violence resource center is confidential.

The MCEDV recently published a handout geared specifically for male victims of domestic violence.

We may never know what Richard Jeskey’s life was like during the years, weeks or days leading up to his death at the hands of his wife, but it should serve as a reminder to all men that they, too, can be victims of coercion, control and violence and that help is available.

You can reach Renee Ordway at reneeordway@gmail.com.

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