Victim in Jaeger case says ex-boyfriend was abusive and possessive
‘I don’t recognize myself down where he hurt me,’ she tells court
A Lawrence woman testified on Thursday that she regrets having had an abusive relationship with a man now accused of beating her and kidnapping her from her apartment.
She also said she feared for her life on the night of the alleged attack, Oct. 9, 2007, at her apartment in northern Lawrence.
“My state of mind was not clear,” the victim testified. “I thought that Matt maybe mutilated my vagina with a piece of glass.”
During the attack, she said, she lost consciousness and woke up with injuries to her pelvic region and vagina.
The 23-year-old woman’s statements came in the second day of testimony during a trial for Matthew Jaeger, who faces several charges in Douglas County District Court in connection with the alleged attack.
The woman said her relationship with Jaeger, 24, was possessive and abusive.
“I wanted to break up with him, but it was only allowed if he wanted to break up with me,” she testified. “He was the boss.”
Prosecutors accuse Jaeger, a former Kansas University student, of breaking into the woman’s apartment and brutally attacking her after finding her with another man. But his attorneys deny he injured her, saying he was trying to help the woman because he was worried she was in trouble.
Recounting the relationship, the woman told jurors Jaeger would often spy on her or stalk her when she was out with friends. She said that in fall 2007 she moved to a new apartment complex because she was concerned about her safety. She said Jaeger somehow found out where she was living.
She also testified that the defendant had a history of demonstrating jiu-jitsu moves on her, often putting her in a choke hold and forcing her to have sex with him.
Also Thursday, jurors viewed a taped interview with the victim taken from her hospital bed in the days after the incident.
In the tape, the woman tells police that Jaeger choked her until she passed out and that when she regained consciousness, she was bleeding profusely from her vagina.
“I don’t recognize myself down where he hurt me,” the woman said on the video. “It’s a part of myself I can no longer recognize. It doesn’t look like me. It looks like it’s been mutated and deformed.”
She said Jaeger then forced her into his car, sitting in the back seat with her while a friend of his drove. She described how she begged the defendant to take her to the hospital — and she was scared she was going to bleed to death.
“It was scary being so hurt and not knowing how it happened,” the victim said in the taped interview with police.
Statements to police
During cross-examination, Jaeger’s attorney, Pedro Irigonegaray, asked the woman about inconsistencies in her account of the incident and in her description of her relationship with Jaeger.
The defense attorney asked the woman why she told police investigators who questioned her in the hospital following the attack that Jaeger had never been physically violent with her.
She testified Thursday that he had a history of hitting her and choking her until she lost consciousness, dating back to spring 2006. But Irigonegaray said the woman never reported the violence to police, never went to the hospital and continued to go on trips with the Jaeger family to both Chicago and Miami.
“The cycle of abusive relationships, I can’t make sense of it,” the victim said. “I feel ashamed for loving someone who could treat me that way. It’s not like you can just push a button and stop caring for someone, even though he’s psycho.”
Irigonegaray also presented evidence of an e-mail the victim sent to the defendant in summer 2006, in which she wrote, “I wouldn’t change a thing about you.”
He also asked her why her statements Thursday in court about Jaeger choking her in the apartment did not match what she once told police in interviews after the attack, including when she said she had no memory of Jaeger choking her at all.
The woman said her memory improved in the weeks after the attack as her injuries began to heal. She said she was often sedated or coming out of surgery when police were trying to talk to her shortly after the incident.
“It’s not like I got a minor, little cut. I was fighting for my life,” she said.
Charges against Jaeger include aggravated burglary, aggravated battery, aggravated kidnapping and making a criminal threat. The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today. It is expected to last two to three weeks.