Domestic Abusers Sometimes Wear a Badge

Sarah Letendre is spending her time trying to piece together a brand-new life for herself and her two small children. Technically she is homeless, living alone in a hotel, trying to find a job (with her master’s degree in social work) and a permanent place to live. Her days as a nurturing stay-at-home mom are over.

Sarah and Robert (R.J.) Letendre

On the evening of July 10, Sarah, 34, and her police officer husband Ronald, 46, were involved in a domestic dispute at their home in Rollinsford, New Hampshire. Ronald, who is an officer at the neighboring Dover Police Department, placed a call asking for a welfare check on his wife.
Responding officers were told by their fellow cop that during a discussion about a possible divorce Sarah became the aggressor and she needed a “psychiatric evaluation.” Officer Letendre, a former mixed martial arts fighter who outweighs his wife by 100 pounds, alleged that Sarah bit and scratched him and was on drugs. She said he had thrown her down, placed a knee on her neck and violently thrust his elbow into her ribcage.

official Rollingsford,New Hampshire PD mugshot of Sarah Letendre
Mugshot: Sarah Had Fractured Ribs – She Was Arrested, Husband Wasn’t

Sarah was arrested and officers took her to Wentworth-Douglas Hospital for that psychological evaluation. Documents show she received a diagnosis of “closed fracture of multiple ribs of left side.” Doctors apparently saw no need for a psych evaluation and her discharge papers make no mention of illegal drug use.
Along with her arrest came an automatic “no contact” order, meaning she needed to steer clear of her husband who had quickly petitioned for custody of their sleeping children.
Sarah’s sister, Jessica Newman, told me the arresting officers drove Sarah home in the middle of the night and left her in the parking lot wearing only a tank top and shorts, no shoes. When Sarah went inside to get shoes, her purse and phone so she could drive to a friend’s house her husband called police to report the no contact violation. The same Rollinsford police officers responded and as they tried to get her out of the car to take her into custody a frightened Sarah (nursing four fractured ribs) sped away, outside their jurisdiction. Once she got a lawyer Sarah voluntarily turned herself in and has now documented what she says were incidents of domestic abuse going back more than two years.

This photo was posted on Twitter and other social media sites

Now Sarah is only allowed to briefly see her kids a few times a week and only after submitting to drug testing, which her sister says is totally unnecessary. A custody hearing is set for the end of August. She faces criminal prosecution.
Three weeks into her ordeal Sarah wrote on Facebook: “My husband broke 4 of my ribs and used his power and knowledge as a police officer to have my children taken away from me, and brand me as a drug addict and prostitute. Apparently, saying those things means what he did to me was justified in some way.”
I’m sure there is more to this she-said/he-said story but Officer Letendre is not available to comment. He is on paid leave. Neither the Dover or Rollinsford Police Departments have issued statements past their initial announcement of internal investigations.

Purple Ribbons Call Attention to Domestic Violence

Sarah’s sister told me the Letendre’s children, 5 and 2 years old, have asked their mother heart wrenching questions like, “Why did you leave?” and “Why can’t we all go home?” How does a mother explain to kids that daddy has a gun and mommy is afraid of him?
This is just one story about domestic violence inside a police officer’s home. How often it happens isn’t known because no agency keeps track. Dubious studies from 20 years ago concluded that 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence compared to 10% of civilian families. A more recent 2016 study simply concluded that officer involved domestic violence is a high percentage “national problem,” made worse because of cop’s “code of silence,” “improper investigations by police,” and “less than diligent prosecutors” who may need to rely on offending officers for other cases.
Domestic violence in this era of pandemic and civil unrest is increasing in every type of household. We have every reason to believe cases of officer involved domestic violence are on the rise too. Every police chief in the country needs to take notice and warn officers that covering up such violence is just as bad as committing it.



  1. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Reader Brian Maresca writes:

    “Sarah was arrested, and officers took her to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital for that psychological evaluation. Documents show she received a diagnosis of “closed fracture of multiple ribs of left side.” Doctors apparently saw no need for a psych evaluation, and her discharge papers make no mention of illegal drug use.”

    If there were no physical signs on the officer of assault by his wife, and the hospital seems to have not been concerned about drug use, or need for psychological treatment, then perhaps, in addition to , charges of obstruction of justice.charges of FALSE ARREST should be brought against the arresting officers and the husband. There is an enormous physical mismatch here which seems to have been deliberately overlooked (I know of at least one other case in which the police IGNORED this obvious fact). It sounds to me as though this woman needs a lawyer who can bring the FACTS about this case to the courts attention, rather than the legal process relying on allegations to victimize the victim. Thank you for an excellent article Diane.

  2. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Reader Daniel Grondel writes:

    I was one of three witnesses to the attempted murder of my brother twice by his ex-wife. Charges were filed and later dropped because “he is bigger than her”. After abusing him for years, now she beats their girls (all substantiated, documented, and filed with the courts) because he isn’t around anymore to take the abuse. But it is just disregarded because as the court says “children should be with their mothers”. She has made baseless accusations against him resulting in 13+ investigation, all proving his innocence. He has no custody, no visitation rights, and has no money (goes all to the ex-wife). My family is paying for his legal costs. Psychological evaluations have shown my brother with major signs of abuse, and hers showing signs of dominance, controlling, and abusive behaviors. There is so, so much more. But the courts in Seattle keep siding with her, the woman. The courts are biased and broken. I have been witness to the near total lack of justice. Men suffer too. Statistics show men suffer more abuse than women in relationships. Just because it doesn’t cause as much physical damage doesn’t change the fact it’s still abuse! What good is a system that doesn’t work? With all the biases and corruption, it’s no surprise there is such turmoil, violence, and revolution.

    • Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Diane replies to Daniel:

      You are absolutely correct that domestic violence can be perpetrated by a woman against a man. I’m glad you pointed that out. However, I’m not sure if I agree that “Statistics show men suffer more abuse than women in relationships…” I’d appreciate if you could send me a link to such statistics. I’d be very interested.

  3. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Reader Anne Tomasko

    Astute observation. Last sentence was especially powerful. It’s always a pleasure to read comments from a critical reader.

  4. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Reader Scott Lamoreux writes:

    Sometimes they wear a badge, sometimes they’re journalists, sometimes teachers, sometimes government officials, etc….
    Why would you contribute to a Leftist narrative that isolates and demonizes law enforcement personnel?

    • Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Reader Amazing Cracker replies to Scott Lamoreux:

      I believe the purpose of the story is NOT to demonize police. The purpose is more to draw attention to the fact that he used his connections/knowledge to get by with the abuse and what she is going through because of it. It just so happens that this is written at a time when police are under fire. Although not the focal point of the writer, it appears be the focus of the reader.

  5. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:36 am

    Reader Boz writes:

    Agreeing with Amazing Cracker and Anne Tomasko, because I come from a police family and support all Law Enforcement. While my family experience was extremely positive, I know not all are.
    Police are people too. They deal with the underbelly of society all day. I, for one, could not do that.
    My hope and prayer is for reunification of this family.

  6. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Reader Ryan Lindley writes:

    Yet another article generalizing a populace rather than individualizing the situation. Yes sometimes cops are bad, sometimes. Not all the time, not even a majority of time. Sometimes women are the abusers, not a damned thing is said about that. This article was meant to demonize police. Stop, just stop.

    • Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Diane replies to Ryan:

      As the author of this column I can tell you the purpose was NOT to demonize police. It was to highlight the fact that domestic violence can happen in all sorts of households. And if and when it happens within a police officer’s household the responding officer’s should treat it like any other DV call. You think it was okay that after the hospital visit the responding officers simply dumped this woman – barefooted – in the parking lot in the middle of the night? No referral to a woman’s shelter for the night – no escorting her inside to get her shoes, purse, phone so she could safely go somewhere else? What they did was NOT protocol. Glad to discuss this further if you’d care to write me via this website. ~ DD

  7. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:43 am

    Reader Andy Schreckengost writes:

    In my opinion…this is an epidemic. Men create it and force it to be okay. Shit needs to change.

  8. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:43 am

    Reader Allen Tate Wood writes:

    Sarah is a victim of a national conspiracy to punish the victims of police violence….especially when those victims are family members of police officers….Let’s stand up for Sarah…

  9. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Reader Julie Lynne Belshe writes:

    The Husband is abusing the wife and being protected by the Government or Police Department. I’m surprised the Judge hasn’t granted him immunity! Horrible!

  10. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Reader William Drummond writes:

    I did the research, so you don’t have to. Have heard that cops have a high divorce rate. Many studies disprove this notion. Might mean that cop wives just stay in the bad marriages.

  11. Diane Dimond on August 3, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Reader Richard Hydell writes:

    I was abused by a woman, would throw things throw punches I even called the police once after she throw a vase and cut my head . The police came looked at each other and said miss do you want him arrested . I said I’m the one that called. I asked if I could have 5 minutes to get a few things and leave and went to a hotel.I never told anyone because I’m a kinda big guy and she was 98 pounds . It was embarrassing.

  12. Diane Dimond on August 4, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Reader Mike Matteson writes:

    Cops have a 40% domestic violence rate. Sometimes?

    • Diane Dimond on August 4, 2020 at 11:28 am

      Diane replies to Mike:

      As I wrote in the column that 40% figure comes from two studies done in the early 90s. I was unable to find any more recent statistics. That domestic violence can occur in a police officers household should come as no surprise. I just don’t know if today’s statistics are still 40%. Could be higher, could be lower.

  13. Diane Dimond on August 4, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Reader Nancy Spieker Robel (a ret. cop’s wife) writes:

    The departments in our area fired the police officers who were convicted of spousal abuse. The wife had to report but the departments took it very seriously. A sad collateral consequence of the job.

  14. Diane Dimond on August 4, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Reader teeniebuzzer writes:

    How did he fracture her ribs? And what did she do or say to start this dispute? Was she physically violent towards him? If the husband was aggressive and escalated the situation, he should be fired from his job.

    • Diane Dimond on August 4, 2020 at 11:33 am

      Diane replies to teeniebuzzer:

      As I wrote – he says she bit and scratched him as he was trying to make a call for a ‘welfare check’ on her. He says she became aggressive during a discussion about a possible divorce. She says he was the aggressor and that during the fight he threw her to the ground and fell full force upon her ribcage with an elbow slam. He said/she said….but it is pretty clear she sustained the most serious injuries. He did not go to the hospital. She did.

  15. Diane Dimond on August 5, 2020 at 9:43 am

    Reader DavidSparkman writes:

    Being a police officer is one of the most marital stressful jobs you can have. Your spouse is constantly worried that they will suddenly be on their own to raise the family, loose their best friend, and have their world turned upside down. Most police departments offer marital counseling for this reason. There is the constant question of can’t you find a different, safer job? And in times of national strife such as in Portland, it only gets worse

  16. Donna R. Gore on August 21, 2020 at 9:12 am

    Diane -You are on the mark concerning this matter!
    There is no better example of this than the case of police officer Philip Murphy in Chicago, father o fbeloved advocate , homicide survivor and IPV expert, Susan Murphy -Milano who terrorized -abused his wife and Susan for years… until the bitter end when he lured his wife, who was breaking way, starting a new life on her own, when he killed her and committed suicide as Susan arrived. What a shameful coward! Everyone in the police, “turned the other way” when it came to this evil man. Article- Donna R. Gore “Ladyjustice

  17. Diane Dimond on August 21, 2020 at 11:26 am

    Reader Benebeth writes:

    Our daughter said isolation was hard on many marriages. “You can hear them fighting as they walk down the street”. Where I am from the policemen do not get a pass. I can think of two off the top of my head who were fired for spousal abuse. It’s outrageous they can keep total strangers safe but not the spouse of an abusive police officer. I am a firm believer in women being educated and as I told my own daughter, “You don’t want to be 40 and he comes home and says he’s leaving you for a girl in the office”. Same for abuse, at least with an education you have options. Keep up the good work, Diane

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