MARTIN C. MUNGER
FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-08119,
DIVISION "H-12" Honorable Monique E. Barial, Judge
Bennett Wolff WOLFF & WOLFF COUNSEL FOR
Allyson D. Tuttle CATHOLIC CHARITIES/PROJECT SAVE COUNSEL FOR
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Edwin A.
Lombard, Judge Daniel L. Dysart
L. DYSART, JUDGE
6, 2016, the trial court rendered a judgment dismissing
Martin Munger's Petition for Protection from Abuse, and
granting Yuliya Sirenko's Order of Protection. Mr. Munger
appeals the judgment. After review, we affirm the trial
parties were married in the United Arab Emirates on December
17, 2014. The couple moved to the United States in early
2015, with their young son, Nikolas, who was nineteen months
old at the time this trial began on March 21,
2016. Mr. Munger testified that the couple moved
here to live, but Ms. Sirenko testified that the move was
an incident on August 21, 2015, Mr. Munger filed a Petition
for Protection from Abuse in the Civil District Court. In
connection with the filing of the petition, Ms. Sirenko was
granted supervised visitation with their son at Harmony
September 11, 2015, Ms. Sirenko sought relief pursuant to La.
R.S. 46:2131, et seq. She claimed that she had acted in
self-defense during the altercation on August 21, and that
Mr. Munger had abused her. Subsequent to filing her first
petition, Ms. Sirenko filed two additional
petitions. In the subsequent petitions, Ms. Sirenko
set forth additional instances of abuse, both in the United
States and abroad.
numerous continuances, the trial court began a trial on the
merits of all the petitions on March 21, 2016. Mr. Munger
presented his case first. He testified that on August 21,
2015, he arrived home seeking to celebrate his first paycheck
with his wife, son and mother. He testified that Ms. Sirenko
did not want to go out to dinner. The couple then discussed
plans for their son's birthday party. Mr. Munger wished
to invite his 12-year-old daughter from a previous
relationship, his sister and her family and his mother. Ms.
Sirenko was opposed to planning a party, and specifically did
not want Mr. Munger's daughter to be invited. According
to Mr. Munger, Ms. Sirenko began typing a text to his
daughter threatening to drag her out of the party by her hair
and to kill her if she attended the party. Not wanting Ms.
Sirenko to send such a message to his daughter, he claims
that he grabbed the phone from Ms. Sirenko and held her hands
to prevent her from punching and scratching him. The two fell
to the sofa, with Ms. Sirenko landing on top of him. As they
struggled, Ms. Sirenko bit him on his chest near his armpit.
When he saw that he was bleeding from the bite, he drove
himself to an urgent care facility for treatment. He
testified that he consulted with his mother and sister, an
attorney, and decided to call the Orleans Parish Coroner to
obtain a protective order. After he had the protective order
in hand, he called the police (about two hours after
incident). He admitted that he never looked for Ms. Sirenko,
who had left the apartment with their son.
the police arrived at the apartment building, they went
upstairs and interviewed Mr. Munger. They then arrested Ms.
Sirenko, who had been in the lobby of the building with the
child, and returned the boy to Mr. Munger. Ms. Sirenko was
charged with domestic battery and spent twenty days in jail.
She subsequently pleaded nolo contendere to a charge
of disturbing the peace. On the day of her plea, a Louisiana
Uniform Abuse Protection Order was issued in Mr. Munger's
favor for an eighteen month period.
case-in-chief, Ms. Sirenko testified that she had been a
victim of a pattern of abuse, beginning in Moscow, continuing
in Dubai, and ending with the incident of August 21, 2015, in
New Orleans. She claimed that Mr. Munger slapped her across
her face while in Moscow when she asked him to help her take
care of their son. She testified that she called the police,
but either the line was busy or no one answered. After the
couple moved to Dubai, she testified that Mr. Munger punched
her in the mouth. She said he told her he was having a
nervous breakdown, having just learned that his mother was in
a serious automobile accident in New Orleans. After striking
her, he picked up a large knife and held it to her throat.
She ran from their apartment and called the police. When the
police arrived, Mr. Munger apologized for his behavior. Ms.
Sirenko testified that she forgave him and did not press
charges as her injuries "were not that bad."
Sirenko testified that after moving to New Orleans, which she
believed to be for a temporary visit, Mr. Munger threatened
to have her deported. He repeatedly told her that the child
would be awarded to him in a custody battle, as the child was
a United States citizen and it would be in his best interest
to remain here. Ms. Sirenko admitted that prior to the August
21, 2015, incident she continued to have sex with Mr. Munger.
She testified that Mr. Munger would sleep in the ...