June 24, 2018
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Support network emerges for pregnant woman blinded in Bangor attack

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The pregnant woman severely beaten last month at an Essex Street apartment building where she lived with the man accused of attacking her said Wednesday that she is “doing as best as I can” to recover from her injuries.

“It’s hard but I have a child on the way in two months,” the 41-year-old woman said from Eastern Maine Medical Center, where she is being treated.

“I’m totally blind,” she said, adding she is heartbroken she’ll never get to see the face of her unborn daughter.

The woman said she faces a long road of recovery. The Bangor Daily News is not naming her because she is the victim of domestic violence.

In the meantime, people at her church and the place she worked are rallying to support her.

Pastor Bobby Bledsoe of the City Reach Church on Forest Avenue is looking for housing for the woman and Leah Barteaux, manager of temporary job agency Labor Ready, created a GoFundMe page to raise money to assist her.

“We’re looking for a family to take her in,” Bledsoe said.

Barteaux posted that the injured woman “is not a bitter person; she just wants to adjust to her new life and enjoy her new baby. [She] is definitely a survivor and deserves support through this terrible tragedy.”

The woman was so badly injured that she was transferred from Eastern Maine Medical Center to Massachusetts General hospital in Boston, where she underwent three surgical operations on her eyes, her 22-year-old son said. She returned to EMMC a few days ago.

“For right now she’s here and nobody knows how long she’s going to be here,” her son said. “She has appointments with the blind [agency representatives], physical therapy and she has to sign up for disability.”

The woman and her son are from Florida but have lived in Maine for the last five months, he said.

“She wants to stay here, go to church here and be around me,” her son said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help.”

The pregnant woman was found by police with extensive trauma to her face, including severe eye injuries, after they received a report of a family fight at 210 Essex St. on Aug. 18. Police were called about 2:15 a.m. by a neighbor who told police Joshua Cole, 34, was strangling the woman. The neighbor and her boyfriend tried to intervene, but were injured in the process and had to retreat inside their apartment, which is across the hall from Cole’s.

Cole is facing multiple charges stemming from the brutal incident, and remained behind bars Wednesday at Penobscot County Jail unable to post his $100,000 bail.

The pregnant woman said she was homeless before meeting Cole, who became her boyfriend, but is not the father of her unborn child. She moved in with him about a month before she was injured.

She said she learned he had mental health problems when she found prescription pill bottles while cleaning the apartment.

When Cole made his first appearance in court, Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said Cole “has been engaged in treatment for a psychiatric disorder for quite some time now,” without listing the condition.

“When I moved in he always listened to music. A week or two before [she was attacked] he stopped listening to music and his outbursts were getting more and more regular and he was doing it in public,” the woman said of Cole.

She said that she remembers little about what happened the night she was injured. She said she left the apartment early on Aug. 18 after she and Cole got into an argument over her smoking cigarettes, but she recalled he apologized when she returned to the apartment after work late that day.

“He said something about going to the store and that really is the last thing I remember,” she said.

The woman said she has a flash of a memory of being awakened and being choked until she passed out. The next thing she remembers is waking up blind and with a concussion at Massachusetts General.

“There are so many points when I lost time,” the pregnant woman said. “I still can’t remember.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

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