Artist pleads guilty to assault and harassment charges in domestic violence case

New York Criminal Court building

The Swiss-born, New York-based artist Tobias Madison pled guilty to one criminal count of assault in the third degree and one count of harassment in a domestic violence case in New York Criminal Court this morning. As part of an agreement with the District Attorneys office, he can clear the assault charge from his record in the future, provided he meets certain conditions over the next year.

The DAs office had charged Madison with four misdemeanours for assault, attempted assault, and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation; and one violation, for harassment. According to the criminal complaint, during an incident in December 2018, the artist strangled his then girlfriend, hit her in the face, and struck her head against a wall, “causing swelling to the head, concussion, and substantial pain”.

In court today, Assistant District Attorney Kirstie Raffan opened with a statement saying: “The People believe that each of the charged crimes in this case, and their underlying facts as articulated in the criminal complaint, can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt”. This is based on evidence including Madisons own comments and communications, she said. But the artist was being given the chance to plead to only the lesser charge of harassment in a years time, “to give the defendant an opportunity to take responsibility for his conduct and work to avoid re-offending,” Raffan concluded.

Over the next year, he must have no new arrests; attend a 26-week in-person batterers programme in Basel, Switzerland, where he was born; have weekly sessions with his therapist, with compliance and progress updates sent to the DAs office every two months; and abide by a full order of protection barring him from contacting the victim. If he meets those conditions, the guilty plea for the top charge of assault will be vacated.

Madison was quiet in court, where he was accompanied by a female friend, and gave one-word answers to Judge Keshia Espinals questions. His lawyer, Julie Rendelman, declined to comment after the hearing.

The case came to light last autumn, as we previously reported, when supporters of the victim wrote a letter asking for a dialogue with the Swiss Institute, where a piece by Madison was on view as part of a group show. In the wake of the news, the poet CAConrad cancelled a reading at the museum, but Madisons work remained on view throughout the run of the exhibition, which closed on 29 December. The organisations director, Simon Castets, said at the time that “we respect the rights of all parties involved. Therefore, we will let the courts and the authorities determine the facts”. The Swiss Institute, which also gave Madison his first solo show in the US in 2010, has not reRead More – Source