PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a Middletown man has been sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve 10 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) for assaulting his former girlfriend and breaking into her home in Cumberland in 2021.
On June 19, 2023, Robert Leeming (age 47) entered a plea of nolo contendere to one count of felony assault domestic strangulation and one count of domestic breaking and entering.
At the hearing, Superior Court Justice Richard Raspallo sentenced the defendant to 20 years, with 10 years to serve at the ACI and a 10-year suspended sentence with 20 years of probation. The Court also issued a No Contact Order between the defendant and the victim, and ordered the defendant to participate in batterers intervention programming.
“The defendant in this case is a habitual violent offender against women and I believe he got what he deserved – a lengthy prison sentence,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Instead of focusing on the defendant, I’d rather highlight the victim. Not only did she demonstrate extraordinary courage while fighting for her life, but she also mustered the strength to provide a victim impact statement to the Court prior to her attacker’s sentencing. She remains a victim of course, but perhaps more importantly, she is a survivor. I am grateful for the exceptional work of the Cumberland Police Department and the prosecutors in my Office, in this case and in so many others.”
Had the case proceeded to a trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that during the evening of March 20, 2021, the defendant broke into the home of his then girlfriend, the victim, and violently attacked and strangled her.
At 7:15 p.m., Cumberland Police responded to a 911 call from the victim, who had just jumped from her second-story apartment window in an attempt to escape her attacker. The victim stated that the defendant kicked through her apartment door, threatened to kill her, and subsequently punched her in the face, head, and torso, repeatedly. He then threw her to the floor before choking her to the point that the victim said she began to lose consciousness, after which she asked to go to the bathroom. In the bathroom, the defendant continued to violently assault the victim before leaving the bathroom to go to the kitchen. At that time, the victim opened a window, gripped the sill, and called for help before falling to the ground. Rescue personnel transported her to the hospital, where she was treated for fractures to both of her heels.
Police sought a warrant for the defendant’s arrest and took him into custody days later on March 25, 2021.
“Cases of domestic violence are especially difficult for the victim, and so I commend this victim for her help in this case. I also want to thank everyone who worked to bring this defendant to justice so that he can no longer hurt members of our community,” said Cumberland Police Chief Matthew Benson. “And of course, thanks to the Cumberland Police Department and the Attorney General’s Office for their diligence in investigating and prosecuting the defendant.”
Special Assistant Attorneys General Jessica Villella and Taylor Matook of the Office of the Attorney General, and Patrolman Jarrett Clarke and Patrolwoman Shannah Clow of the Cumberland Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.