D.C. Journalist Found Not-Guilty On Assault & Battery, Strangulation Charges

David Creed •

Waicowski and Arundel
Robert Waickowski and his client, John Arundel, who was found not-guilty on charges of assault & battery and strangulation.

This week’s Current Court Report includes arraignments and dispositions from Monday’s Nantucket District Court session. It is led by our recap of a jury trial for a Washington D.C. man accused in 2022 of grabbing a woman by the throat and dragging her up the stairs by her hair at a Nantucket residence. The defendant in the case is well-known in the D.C. area for his work as the long-time associate publisher for Washington Life who has also reported for outlets such as The Washington Post and New York Times. A six-person Nantucket jury (three women and three men) found him not guilty.

John Arundel, 58, of Washington D.C. had his name cleared of the Aug. 17, 2022 charges of assault & battery and strangulation following a trial that lasted approximately four hours. While the alleged victim in the case testified that the incident happened, there was no evidence provided other than that testimony to visually show any marks, injuries, or that the alleged altercation had actually occurred. There were allegedly two witnesses on the scene who witnessed the incident but neither testified nor appeared in court on Monday.

Arundel was the individual who called the police that night.

Chase Colasurdo, one of two police officers who responded to the incident, testified stating that one individual on the scene said there was no contact initially but later on changed their story and said there was a physical incident. Neither Colasurdo or officer Ryan Clark reported any visible injuries at the scene. The alleged victim said during her testimony “she’s brown” and that it takes longer for her to develop bruising.

The alleged victim and Arundel traveled to Nantucket together from D.C and were staying at a rental home. While the woman testified that she never dated Arundel, in video evidence from the night of the incident submitted to the court, Arundel repeatedly referred to the woman as his girlfriend without any rebuttal. He is also recorded repeatedly asking the woman and her friend to leave the home.

Arundel from the beginning has been adamant he was innocent – telling the media in a press release at the time of the incident that he would submit all of the evidence at his disposal to court and “expected a full vindication from the court.” Arundel was represented by local island attorney Robert Waickowski.

“What these severely intoxicated women claim simply never occurred,” Arundel said.

Arundel has been a prominent figure in the D.C. area for years. On his social media, he can be seen with many well-known politicians past and present including former presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, former house speaker Nancy Pelosi, and former GOP presidential candidate John McCain.

He has also convened with some prominent athletes such as former Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, legendary golfer Tiger Woods, and superstar Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin at events.

Arundel submitted a statement to the Current Tuesday evening - saying the decision "renewed my belief in the principles of justice and truth that guide our legal system, and affirming my fundamental belief in the importance of evidence; the presumption of innocence; and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

"The total absence of physical evidence; the inconsistencies in the prosecution’s narrative; and the testimonial evidence presented led to the only just conclusion by the jury: my acquittal," Arundel said. "I extend my deepest gratitude to the Nantucket jury for its diligence, attention and fairness in this trial. Their verdict not only serves to help restore my good name - it also upholds the principles of justice that we hold dear as Americans."

In other Nantucket District Court news, Ana Patricia Hernandez Pineda, 34, of Nantucket was arraigned on April 1 charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, speeding, assault & battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest. She had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf and was ordered to return to court May 20 for a pretrial hearing.

According to the police report, Pineda was given multiple orders by police to step out of her vehicle after being advised that she was under arrest during a vehicle stop on the suspicion of drunk driving. She proceeded to allegedly grab onto the steering wheel, pin her left leg into the floorboard, and refused to exit the vehicle.

Police say Pineda then tightened her grip, used her body weight and strength to resist officer's attempts to remove her from her car, and then while officers attempted to remove her allegedly kicked one of them with her left leg in the groin area.

Concepcion Benitez-Molina, 59, of Nantucket was arraigned on a March 27 charge of trespassing. He had a not-guilty plea entered on his behalf and was ordered to return to court May 28 for a pretrial hearing.

Brandon J. Davis, 37, of Nantucket had July 19, 2013 charges of breaking & entering a building for a misdemeanor and larceny under $250 dismissed following the payment of restitution.

Jovanna Fuller, 28, of Nantucket was arraigned on March 27 charges of breaking & entering a building in the nighttime for a felony, assault & battery, and assault & battery on a family/household member. She had not-guilty pleas entered on her behalf and was ordered to return to court April 22 for a pretrial hearing.

Tabitha O. Lippi, 28, of Nantucket, had her probation she was serving on a Sept. 3, 2021 charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle following a guilty verdict terminated after completing the probation without a violation.

Ethan C. Potter, 29, of Nantucket was arraigned on March 26 charges of operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, carrying a loaded firearm without a license, and possessing ammunition without an FID card. He had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf and was ordered to return to court April 22 for a pretrial hearing. While Potter did not have a license to carry a firearm in Massachusetts, he had a license to carry a firearm in a different state.

After completing six months of pretrial probation, Byron E. Thomas, 38, of New York had Aug. 7, 2023 charges of assault & battery and assault with a dangerous weapon dismissed.

After being continued without a finding for one year, Jason E. Thomas, 48, of Nantucket had a July 5, 2022 charge of assault with a dangerous weapon dismissed.

After serving six months of jail time and completing one year of probation without an incident, Francisco Alberto Veras, 26, of Hartford, CT had the probations he was serving on guilty pleas to Nov. 6, 2021 charges of assault & battery on a family/household member (two counts) and assault & battery with a dangerous weapon (two counts) terminated.

*All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty under a court of law*

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