Birdgewater - A Bridgewater, New Jersey, man who allegedly wanted his wife to get an abortion has been charged with punching her in the stomach hard enough to kill the 10-week-old unborn child she was carrying, authorities said.
Drew Stauffenberg, 36, was charged with one count of aggravated assault in Superior Court in Somerville. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was expected to surrender to Bridgewater police.
A probable cause affidavit filed by police said Stauffenberg and his wife began arguing in their house on Villa Drive on Sunday morning, Aug. 30. The argument escalated into a physical fight, police said. Then Stauffenberg allegedly grabbed his wife, who was identified in court papers only by her initials, N.S., bear-hugging her and repeatedly squeezing her stomach.
Mrs. Stauffenberg was 10 weeks pregnant at the time and told her husband he was going to hurt the baby, police said. She escaped from his grasp, but then he punched her in the stomach, according to authorities.
Mrs. Stauffenberg told police that, since learning of her pregnancy, her husband had "expressed a wish for her to have an abortion."
According to police, after punching his wife, Stauffenberg grabbed her again and forced her out the front door of their home. A witness reported seeing him squeezing her stomach and helped Mrs. Stauffenberg call the police.
Police officers took her to Somerset Medical Center in Somerville because she was complaining of stomach pains. Once there, she was found to have damage to her amniotic sac and uterus, and doctors determined her unborn child had died as a result of those injuries.
"The viability of the fetus, or the lack thereof, prevents us from being able to charge murder in this case," said Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest.
"It's a very sad case," said Bridgewater Police Chief Richard Voohees.
The couple had only been married since June, and Drew Stauffenberg filed a civil suit in Superior Court in Somerville shortly after the Aug. 30 incident seeking to annul their marriage. Stauffenberg had been charged with simple assault on Aug. 30, but after the annulment papers were served on Mrs. Stauffenberg, her attorney pressed prosecutors to upgrade the charge.
Source: Crisis Pregnancy Centers Online