With a strong rebuke, judge sends Chilmark fisherman to jail

District Court Associate Justice Thomas Barrett last week told Karsten Larsen, 45, of Chilmark that his behavior toward women would not be tolerated and sentenced the well-known Menemsha fisherman to six months in the Dukes County House of Correction.

Mr. Larsen was convicted on September 12, in Edgartown District Court, of assault and battery, and taken into custody in the courtroom.

Judge Barrett also ordered two years of probation, including random drug and alcohol screens, and ordered Mr. Larsen to complete a counseling program for people who batter women.

Mr. Larsen was charged with indecent assault following an incident on September 10, 2011, in which he was accused of groping a woman during a party on the Menemsha docks.

Judge Barrett heard the evidence and delivered the verdict, after Mr. Larsen waived his right to a jury trial. The judge said the evidence did not support a conviction on the indecent assault charge, but he found Mr. Larsen guilty of the lesser charge of assault and battery.

“The statements that were made were despicable,” Judge Barrett said, commenting from the bench referring to witness testimony about Mr. Larsen’s statements to the victim that night. “Low class, and despicable.”

Judge Barrett noted that alcohol was involved in both assaults, but he said that did not excuse the behavior. “That’s not, literally, a get out of jail free card. The words, the actions, not today. Not in 2012. You don’t get to do that. This guy needs to be incarcerated, because he doesn’t get it.”

At the time of the Menemsha harbor offense, Mr. Larsen was on probation for an earlier assault in August 2008, stemming from an altercation during an event at the Chilmark Community Center.

Then, Mr. Larsen was arrested after groping a teenage girl and punching another teenager who tried to intervene. The court also charged him with a threat to commit a crime when he made threats against Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi and his family.

Mr. Larsen agreed to plead guilty to assault and battery, and threatening to commit a crime. He was sentenced to one year in the house of correction but that sentence was suspended, and Mr. Larsen was placed on probation for two years.

Chief Cioffi said he thought justice was served by the verdict. “I think the sentence was appropriate,” he said. “It shows this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated.”