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Friday, April 9, 2021

Passerby reports brutal domestic battery incident in Leesburg

Joel Allen St. Clair
Joel Allen St. Clair

A 41-year-old Leesburg man was arrested on domestic abuse charges for the second time in less than a year after a passerby reported hearing and seeing him battering a woman through an open window.

Joel Allen St. Clair was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, domestic battery by strangulation, and obstructing justice by tampering with a victim.  St. Clair was previously arrested in Lake County in April 2020 and charged with domestic battery (second or subsequent offense) and false imprisonment. He was also convicted of battery in Wisconsin in June 1998.

Leesburg Police officers responded to a residence in the 300 block of South 12th Street shortly after midnight Thursday after receiving an anonymous report of a battery in progress. The reporting party met the officers and directed them to the house where the incident took place, according to the police report.

Officers went to the residence and spoke with the victim, who said St. Clair arrived home from work around midnight. She said she asked him to leave because she no longer wanted to be with him. The victim said she felt like she didn’t have the freedom to do as she pleases with her life and she wanted to end the relationship, the report said.

The victim said St. Clair became extremely upset when she proposed ending the relationship. She said she was packing some of her belongings and when she turned her back to St. Clair, he threw a can of Campbell’s Chunky brand soup at her. The victim said the soup can struck her in the back of the head, causing the can to burst open and the contents to scatter on the bedroom walls, according to the report.

The victim said St. Clair also threw a black plastic bin containing clothes as well as a light green clothes hamper that struck her in the back, causing her to fall on the bed. She said while she was on the bed, St. Clair knelt over her and pulled her hair before choking her. The victim said St. Clair choked her until she felt like she was going to die. She said while St. Clair was choking her, she heard him say he was going to kill her, the report said.

The victim said St. Clair continued to choke her until she was able to loosen his grip enough for her to flip onto her stomach on the bed. She said once she was able to speak again, she repeatedly told St. Clair to stop attacking her. The victim said while she was on her stomach, St. Clair struck her about 12 times in the back. She said he also pulled her hair, grabbed her face and told her if she called law enforcement, he would kill her, according to the report.

The victim said after St. Clair threatened her life, he stood up, brandished a pocket knife and threw it at her. She described the knife as black in color with “beads” on the grip. The victim said the knife landed on the bed in her immediate vicinity but didn’t strike her. She said St. Clair was able to get the knife back before she could get it, the report said.

The victim said St. Clair then placed the blade of the knife to her throat and threatened to kill her. She said she told St. Clair her cell phone was powered on, which caused him to stop attacking her and go sit down on the couch. The victim said law enforcement arrived immediately after St. Clair sat down, according to the report.

St. Clair told deputies the couple had been arguing but the altercation never became physical. He said the argument started after the victim accused him of cheating on her with several men and women. St. Clair said the victim also accused her of “hacking” her phone. He denied tampering with the victim’s cell phone in any manner, the report said.

At that point, the previously anonymous witness said he wanted to go on the record. After providing his name and birthdate, he said he was leaving a friend’s house in the immediate area when he heard the victim screaming. The witness said he went towards the source of the sound to investigate. Upon closer inspection, he said he heard the victim ask St. Clair to not hurt her and saw him forcefully grab her through a missing portion of window blinds on the left side of the bedroom window, according to the report.

Officers observed the victim’s cheeks, chin and upper neck area were red in color as if the skin had been recently agitated. They took photos of items scattered around the bedroom that were submitted as evidence. Officers also found a black Coast brand pocket knife with a textured handle that matched the description provided by the victim, the report said.

St. Clair was taken to the Lake County Jail, where he was released later Thursday on $15,000 bond. He will appear in Lake County Court on April 26.

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