Personal trainer from Hartford charged with grabbing child by neck

Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 02, 2019

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A personal trainer from Hartford is being held without bail in connection with an incident over the weekend where he allegedly physically assaulted his girlfriend’s juvenile son.

Christopher Connolly, 47, was on probation for an aggravated second-degree domestic assault conviction at the time he allegedly grabbed the boy by his neck inside his residence and pushed him up against a wall, causing bruising, according to a Hartford Police Department affidavit written by Randy St. Peter.

Connolly, who works at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, was arraigned on Tuesday in Windsor Superior Court on two felony aggravated second-degree domestic assault charges. He pleaded not guilty.

Judge Timothy Tomasi sided with Assistant Windsor County State’s Attorney Glenn Barnes in denying Connolly’s request to be released on bail.

The boy’s mother, Jessica Fielding, spoke to Tomasi and said her son could temporarily live with her sister if Connolly and the boy were ordered to have no contact.

“I’m not likely to displace the victim,” Tomasi said.

Fielding told Tomasi that Connolly was attempting to discipline the boy when the incident happened, and that when Connolly grabbed a hold of him, they lost their balance, fell and hit a wall.

That story contradicts what the boy told investigators and his school counselor, according to the police affidavit. The boy said his mother asked him to stop playing video games, and when he refused, Connolly “came downstairs, ripped his PlayStation out, slammed it on the floor and then grabbed him by the neck and pushed him against the wall,” the affidavit states.

The boy had visible marks on his neck two days after the incident, according to the affidavit. The situation came to light after the boy’s sister and grandfather told the police and school about the alleged incident.

Connolly, who pleaded guilty in December in Washington County court to assault and unlawful mischief and was placed on probation, is due next in the White River Junction courthouse on May 13. The victim in the Washington County case is unconnected to Connolly’s Windsor County case, a prosecutor said.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.