In 2006, Marshall Swan stood handcuffed outside his Chelsea home, waiting to be taken to jail after an arrest for assaulting his wife, who said he grabbed her throat, banged her head against a window and slapped her.

After asking a sheriff’s deputy for a definition of the word “assault,” Swan called it “normal behavior in this house,” the deputy recalled.

“We grab each other’s hands, arms, legs, breasts and (crotches) on a daily basis,” Swan is quoted as saying in a report.

Carole Swan, the former Chelsea selectwoman facing 10 federal fraud charges as a jury deliberated late Friday at U.S. District Court in Bangor, called police to say her husband was “out of control” earlier that afternoon in February 2006, and that he had assaulted her.

Before her trial began earlier this month, Carole Swan’s lawyer, Leonard Sharon, dropped a bomb, writing in a pre-trial document that her wrongdoing wasn’t intentional and was prompted by terror of her husband, the first time a history of domestic violence was invoked in the case.

Domestic violence allegations dominated the trial, even though Marshall Swan hasn’t been charged with it since 2006, the only arrest record the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office has for him, said Chief Deputy Ryan Reardon.

During the trial, Carole Swan said he punched her, pulled her hair and kicked her. Her mother, Patricia McLaughlin of Randolph, testified that 20 years ago, she saw Marshall Swan grab her daughter by the throat.

Carole Swan testified that her husband put a sensor near their bed to track her movements. She cried while saying her husband checked her genitals to see if she has had sex with other men.

Her mother said once, Marshall Swan even accused her and her daughter of having an incestuous relationship.

David Sanders, a Livermore Falls-based criminal defense attorney, said at first he thought Sharon could argue that Carole Swan was compelled to commit the crimes by her husband under threat of harm.

But Sanders said he didn’t think the evidence was there, and the domestic violence detailed by Sharon in the trial was too “run of the mill” to show Carole Swan was under an inordinate amount of stress.

“Lenny’s real problem is he doesn’t have a defense, so he’s pulling a little from a lot of places,” Sanders said.

Now, the allegations loom over her husband’s trial in federal court on 10 charges of tax fraud and defrauding a federal program, set to start Oct. 8, said his attorney, Walter McKee. However, Carole Swan’s abuse claims won’t be admissible in that trial, Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. has written.

On Friday, McKee refused to comment on the 2006 charge and said he wouldn’t respond to new allegations of abuse.

That afternoon in 2006, Carole Swan called 911 to say her husband was out of control and that he had assaulted her, the sheriff’s office report says.

While en route to the Swans’ home, former Kennebec County sheriff’s deputy Jeffrey Boivin reported that Carole Swan had second thoughts: dispatchers lost contact with her. When they called back, she said no assault had taken place and sounded confused.

Carole Swan told Boivin that after a disagreement, Marshall Swan grabbed her throat and banged her head against a bathroom window. As he yelled at her, she said he slapped her chest repeatedly. She had no bruises, scars or other marks, Boivin wrote.

In Boivin’s report, he said Marshall Swan told a similar story to Deputy G.J. Neagle, except he denied grabbing his wife’s throat or hitting her. He admitted to grabbing her hand.

When Neagle told Carole Swan her husband was being arrested for domestic assault, she said, “You can’t take him.” She and one of the couple’s sons refused to write out statements.

When Marshall Swan got to the Kennebec County Correctional Facility, he posted $200 bail and left with conditions not to have contact with his wife or children.

On Feb. 14 of that year, court records show he entered a guilty plea and agreed to counseling. Later, the plea was withdrawn and the case dismissed after he completed a 12-month deferred disposition, including counseling. Joseph O’Donnell, his attorney at the time, wouldn’t comment on the case on Friday.

Back in 2006, Boivin reported that the younger son, John Swan, then 11, was too nervous to answer many questions after deputies arrived at the home.

“It was clear to me that Carole and the two boys feared the consequences of their father going to jail,” Boivin wrote in that report.

On Thursday, when John, now 18, testified, he choked up, at one point taking a deep, audible breath to calm himself. He said he witnessed his father abusing his mother over the years.

Sometimes, he said, she would leave the house. He would pack a bag and leave with her. He said he’d ask her why they always went back home.

“She said she intended to get me through school before she did anything like that,” John said.

He graduated from Cony High School in June. His mother testified that she left the house shortly before the trial and won’t go back. McKee said he didn’t know anything about the Swans’ living situation on Friday.

Margo Batsie of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence said she hasn’t followed Swan’s case, but she has heard of battered women committing crimes while under duress by an abusive partner.

However, she said those crimes are usually lower-level, such as drug crimes.

“It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility,” Batsie said of the Swans’ case. “What’s tricky about domestic abuse is, we don’t really know.”

Michael Shepherd — 621-5632
[email protected]

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