BENNINGTON -- A Manchester man is accused of strangling his girlfriend with her hoodie and hitting her, allegedly because she asked him for a hug.

Keith D. Rowe, 42, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to two counts first degree aggravated domestic assault, and a misdemeanor charge of interference with access to emergency services. He was ordered held until a bail hearing scheduled for today.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Roscoe Harrington, on Sunday at 12:46 a.m. he and Officer Thalia Hudson went to a home in Bennington where a third party had called to report a woman was assaulted. They found no one there, but learned the alleged victim had gone to the emergency room at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. Police found her there, and noted she had red marks on her neck and slight swelling on her nose. She provided no information initially and was uncooperative.

Police spoke to a friend of the woman's, who told them she has been in a relationship with Rowe and that it has been abusive.

The alleged victim did tell police she did not want Rowe arrested or in trouble, and that what happened was her fault. She said she asked Rowe for a hug when he did not want to give her one. She repeatedly told police she loves Rowe and does not want him arrested. Prior to this relationship, she had been abused by her boyfriend, but it was worse then.

All she would tell police about the incident was that Rowe was sitting on her back and grabbed the back of her hoodie so it cut off her breathing.


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She was unable to say how long this happened, and added that Rowe hit her in the face and broke her cell phone when she tried to call police.

The incident occurred in front of the woman's daughter, and when told by police they would have to report it to the Department for Children and Families, she responded, 'Oh, great, you are going to take my kid, this is why I don't report things to you guys."

Hudson told the woman she needed to think about the safety of her daughter, and was told by the woman she would rather be dead than not be with Rowe.

The woman's friends told police she had reported to them being assaulted by Rowe, saying he had slammed her face into a refrigerator. One of the friends told police the woman reported having been strangled to the point of passing out.

Rowe told police he had been at the woman's house for most of the day, then she came home complaining of being depressed. He told her he was leaving. Rowe chose to stop talking to police after being asked at what point things turned physical. He did ask police to tell the woman not to contact him, then said she no longer had a phone. She did, but it was in his name, and that he had taken care of it so she could not use it.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.