Domestic violence case against Salem official dropped

·3 min read

Jun. 15—SALEM, N.H. — A domestic violence case against D.J. Bettencourt, deputy commissioner at the New Hampshire Insurance Department and a Salem Budget Committee member, has been dropped.

New court filings point to the alleged victim in the case, Bettencourt's wife, Shannon, who has given inconsistent accounts of what happened the night she called 911 to report that she was assaulted.

An original police report says that on May 5 at 1:45 a.m., she claimed that she was pulled out of bed after her husband possibly saw a text message on her phone that upset him.

Officers responded, and Bettencourt denied putting his hands on her.

However, one police report reads, "she stated he absolutely grabbed her by both forearms and pulled her out of the bed while yelling at her."

The couple's three young children were home at the time, Shannon Bettencourt told police.

"These original statements supported the defendant's arrest," Derry Prosecutor C. Scott Jordan wrote to the court.

Before landing on Jordan's desk, the case was passed from Salem prosecutors to several other jurisdictions, including Pelham.

Jordan said without Shannon Bettencourt's cooperation, an independent witnesses or other admissible evidence, the case cannot move forward.

Defense Attorney Anthony Sculimbrene explained how Shannon has the constitutional right to refuse to testify as a witness. And if she did take the stand in this case, he said, it could lead to perjury charges.

The Bettencourts released a joint statement after the case was dropped.

It begins: "As we work through this difficult time, we have been sustained by our unconditional love for one another and a commitment to our marriage. Today, it was rightly concluded that our incident was without legal viability, the only charge has been dropped, and the case is over. We are relieved that the legal process is concluded, along with the ugly politics that permeated this unfortunate incident."

The statement goes on to condemn domestic violence and emphasize the family's future together.

Though the two admit to engaging in an argument "that escalated beyond anything that either of us finds acceptable," they say, "this incident was never domestic violence."

"Life is messy. Marriage is hard and imperfect. Professionally, we will get back to serving the public. Personally, in the end, we will move forward with perspective, patience and focus on raising our children and strengthening our relationship with love and perseverance outside the public spotlight."

Gov. Chris Sununu last year approved Bettencourt's nomination as deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

Also a former state representative, Bettencourt served as Sununu's policy director from 2017 until 2021.

He was first elected as a state representative in 2004 at the age of 20, and following the 2010 elections he became the nation's youngest House Majority Leader, and the youngest in New Hampshire history.

Bettencourt stepped away in 2012, at age 28, issuing a statement that cited personal and professional commitments that would prevent him from continuing his legislative career.

But the resignation came amid a scandal and public admission that Bettencourt had misrepresented work while pursuing a law degree from the University of New Hampshire law school.