Contractor gets probation for assault
An Edgartown District Court judge Friday placed Kevin Cusack, 47, of Oak Bluffs on probation for three years for an assault against the Oak Bluffs conservation commission administrator.
Mr. Cusack, a contractor and former member of the Oak Bluffs conservation commission, had faced a more serious charge of assault and battery on a public employee. That charge was reduced to assault as part of a plea bargain reached between the prosecutor, the victim and Mr. Cusack.
The incident occurred on March 14, when Elizabeth Durkee, the town's conservation commission administrator, was conducting a site visit at a waterfront house owned by Mr. Cusack at 337 Barnes Road.
According to police records filed at the time of his arraignment, Mr. Cusack pushed Ms. Durkee to the ground and punched her in the face with a closed fist. Mr. Cusack denied he struck Ms. Durkee.
In court Friday, Mr. Cusack admitted to sufficient facts on the charge of assault as part of a plea bargain and apologized for his actions. His case was continued without a finding for three years.
In remarks from the bench, Judge John M. Julian told Mr. Cusack that it was very disturbing that the assault was on a town employee. He ordered Mr. Cusack to stay away from Ms. Durkee, undergo anger management counseling, and pay a monthly probation fee to the court.
In court, Laura Marshard, Cape and Islands assistant district attorney, urged the judge to deal sternly with Mr. Cusack and send a message that any type of assault on a town employee conducting official business would not be tolerated. She told The Times Tuesday the lesser charge was agreed to with the consent and approval of the victim and the approval of the Oak Bluffs selectmen, who closely monitored the case. Otherwise the DA's office would not have agreed to it, the assistant DA said.
Ms. Marshard said that this case typifies plea bargaining because it represents the balance that is often struck in order to find an outcome that is satisfactory for the victim, and acceptable to the defendant. "It replaces the uncertainty of a jury trial with a known outcome," she said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Cusack told The Times that he was prepared to go to trial over whether he struck Ms. Durkee, but he readily admitted that he yelled, swore, and approached her in a threatening manner. "I never threw her to the ground or hit her," he said.
Mr. Cusack said that his outburst was the culmination of more than a decade of ill feelings and animosity between him and Ms. Durkee, as well as outside pressures. He said his actions were totally inappropriate. "I genuinely am sorry for that day," he said.
Yesterday, Ms. Durkee said the only comment she wished to make was, "I am satisfied with the outcome."