Manhunt Case Illustrates Difficulties With Domestic Violence Cases

The man who was sought in a 16 hour manhunt in Washoe Valley Sunday night remains in jail on charges of domestic violence. It

Michael John Paszek

RENO, NV - Authorities searched the Davis Creek Park area for 16 hours Sunday night and Monday morning for 53 year old Michael John Paszek.

Their search began after his wife told authorities he had beaten her, fired a gun at her and held her against her will.

The manhunt ended when Paszek, apparently hearing police were looking for him, turned himself in.

He's been charged with domestic violence, a misdemeanor,false imprisonment, a gross misdemeanor, and violating a protective order that he stay away from his wife.

It's his second time facing these charges. He was convicted of domestic battery in June, receiving two consecutive 180-day sentences. Those sentences were suspended, but he may now have to serve them.

But our search of legal documents concerning Paszek reveals a history of violent and controlling behavior that stretches back years to a previous marriage.

Paszek's previous wife now lives in another state, but public documents we've obtained hint what that relationship was like.

Seeking a permanent restraining order against him, his ex-wife submitted an account of several months of their marriage.

She told of being restrained in a chair for hours and threatened with being hit with a flashlight, physical abuse that went on for hours, putting on gloves so he would leave fewer marks with his blows and going to the hospital, bruised and battered.

Then going to the hospital emergency room battered and bruised.

People at the Committee to Aid Abused Women hear similar stories all the time.

"Nothing about it surprises me," says Amy Saathoff.

It's difficult, she says, and frightening for a woman to break away. When they try it can get worse.

"They kick it up a notch or they really react or they'll stalk them. The threats will get worse."

That's what apparently happened in Paszek's earlier marriage.

The legal record shows a list of restraining orders sought by his wife and people who tried to help her and then became objects of his anger..

"Perpetrators of domestic violence see their partner as a possession and when you feel your possession is being threatened or taken away from you, then often times whoever is helping that person becomes a target."

None of this led to conviction on domestic violence charges. His then wife declined to testify against him, possibly out of fear.

That happens a lot says District Attorney Dick Gammick and this problem has led to a change in tactics.

Officers are now trained to investigate further gathering evidence that can lead to a conviction without the woman's testimony.

"Neighbors who heard anything, other witnesses, any injuries, prior occurrences, anything we can find in the way of physical evidence or witnesses that we can go in and prove the case without the victim if it becomes necessary."

And, he says, that's leading to more convictions, though the goal of breaking the chain of violence that can run through generations remains elusive.

Paszek's present case and his past history are getting attention because of the widely reported manhunt, but the crimes he's accused of are all too common.

CAAW had more than 10-thousand contacts last year and provided more than 8,000 individual emergency room nights at their shelters.

But help is available.

"If you're in an abusive situation, call us or one of the other organizations to find out what's available," urges Saathoff.

You'll find a list of resources on this website under Hot Topics

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