A Swanzey man on Thursday pleaded guilty to charges related to an incident in which he chained his girlfriend to a bed and locked her in a room with an 8-year-old child while he went to work.
Michael J. Grant, 33, was sentenced to two to five years in N.H. State Prison. An additional 3½-to-7-year suspended prison sentence will hang over his head for the next 10 years and could be imposed if he fails to remain on good behavior.
Judge David W. Ruoff, who approved the sentence Thursday in Cheshire County Superior Court, had rejected an earlier, more lenient agreement that would have sentenced Grant to two years in jail, with the possibility of release on electronic monitoring after a year.
At a June 27 hearing, Ruoff pressed Grant’s attorney, Jennifer Cohen, and Assistant Cheshire County Attorney Kerry O’Neill to justify that sentencing proposal, signaling that the punishment seemed too light for the actions Grant was accused of. He ultimately vetoed the plea deal.
“I’m not gonna accept the sentence,” Ruoff said at the time. “Some cases just need to go to trial. I think this is one of them.”
In court Thursday, Ruoff and the two attorneys said little about the new agreement.
Grant pleaded guilty to felony reckless conduct, felony criminal restraint, misdemeanor reckless conduct and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
Police said Grant chained his girlfriend to a bed and confined her to the bedroom the night of May 9. An 8-year-old boy, whom Grant knew, was locked in the room with her, according to an affidavit written by Swanzey police Lt. Joseph DiRusso.
O’Neill said at the last hearing that the boy told a school counselor that Grant confined him and the woman overnight while he went to work.
Swanzey police were notified by the N.H. Division for Children, Youth and Families on May 9 and went to Grant’s house, where they found his bedroom locked from the outside, DiRusso wrote in the affidavit.
Inside, police found the woman chained to the bed by her ankle, along with the boy, who was not restrained, according to the affidavit.
O’Neill, the prosecutor, said at the June hearing that the case is complicated, and the woman has not been cooperative with police. But O’Neill said her understanding is that Grant was accusing the woman of cheating and she agreed to be chained.
“This is a very controlling defendant, I think,” O’Neill said.
In an abusive, controlling relationship, a person may submit to something, but that doesn’t mean it’s voluntary, Linda Douglas, a trauma-informed services specialist at the N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, told The Sentinel in June. “That’s what coercive control is all about,” she said.