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Henok Araya v. Aida Keleta

May 12, 2011

HENOK ARAYA, APPELLANT,
v.
AIDA KELETA, APPELLEE.



Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CPO1579-09 & CPO1789-09) (Hon. Erik P. Christian, Trial Judge)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Steadman, Senior Judge:

Submitted September 24, 2010

Before KRAMER,*fn1 Associate Judge, Retired, and NEBEKER and STEADMAN, Senior Judges.

Dr. Henok Araya appeals from a Civil Protection Order ("CPO"), which required him, inter alia, to vacate his primary residence located at 1800 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. ("New Jersey Property"). Dr. Araya contends this residence was his sole and separate property and therefore the trial court lacked the statutory authority to enter the order to vacate. We disagree.

I.

This CPO proceeding arose out of a physical altercation between Dr. Araya and his wife, appellee Aida Keleta. In its amended Findings of Fact, the trial court concluded that during one evening at the New Jersey Property, Dr. Araya violently assaulted Ms. Keleta, who was then two months pregnant with their second child, by "pulling and dragging her across the threshold of the door."

Accordingly, after a four-day hearing, the trial court granted cross CPOs in favor of both parties. These protective orders required, inter alia, that Dr. Araya vacate the New Jersey Property out of "concern for the safety of the parties." The New Jersey Property was titled solely in Dr. Araya's name, pursuant to an April 15, 2004 deed, which was executed four months before Dr. Araya and Ms. Keleta were married. Ms. Keleta has lived in the New Jersey Property since the marriage, where she cooked, cleaned and took care of the parties' offspring.

II.

The portion of the Intrafamily Offenses Act relevant to Dr. Araya's contention, D.C. Code § 16-1005 (c)(4) (2001), reads as follows:

(c) If, after hearing, the judicial officer finds that there is good cause to believe the respondent has committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against the petitioner, the judicial officer may issue a protection order that:

(4) Directs the respondent to refrain from entering, or to vacate, the dwelling unit of the petitioner when the dwelling is: (A) Marital property of the parties;

(B) Jointly owned, leased, or rented and occupied by both parties; provided, that joint occupancy shall not be required if the respondent's actions caused the petitioner to relinquish occupancy;

(C) Owned, leased, or rented by the petitioner individually; or (D) Jointly owned, leased, or rented by the petitioner and a ...


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