Crime

SLO developer charged with attacking girlfriend has been accused of violence before

A prominent San Luis Obispo developer faces five felonies after being accused of choking a girlfriend and smashing her head through a bathroom window. And, according to court records, it’s not the first time the developer has been accused of a violent attack on a woman.

Ryan Joseph Petetit, 28, is scheduled to appear in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Thursday for his initial arraignment. Last week, the District Attorney’s Office filed five felonies against him, including two counts of corporal injury, dissuading a witness, false imprisonment by violence and assault by means likely to result in great bodily injury.

Petetit, who was the CEO of the high-profile PB Companies LLC, was released from custody Dec. 1 on $50,000 bail.

According to an incident report filed by the Arroyo Grande Police Department, Petetit’s girlfriend was so scared after the alleged Nov. 22 attack that she drove to her mother’s home in Watsonville, where she went to a hospital for her injuries.

According to the police report, the following occurred:

The girlfriend and Petetit had been in a sexual dating relationship for seven months, and the two lived together. On Nov. 22, the two were at a birthday party at Biddle Regional Park. There, Petetit drank heavily before they left for a restaurant in Arroyo Grande, where Petetit drank more, at times buying drinks for other women.

Later, at their home, Petetit became angry with his girlfriend for questioning his behavior at the restaurant and began to yell at her. The woman said she became scared because Petetit had committed three previous acts of domestic violence against her, one resulting in treatment at a hospital.

When the girlfriend attempted to call a friend for help, Petetit took the phone from her. He also trapped her in the bathroom, saying, “You’re not going to call the cops either. I have friends that are cops.”

At some point, Petetit grabbed her throat and squeezed, crushing her airway. Still holding her neck, he lifted her off the ground and “the next thing she remembers is her head went through the bathroom window,” according to the report. “(The woman) stated she opened her eyes and saw stars and the night sky.”

Later, the report continues, Petetit grabbed the woman by the throat again and threw her into a closet. While she was on the ground, he is accused of slamming her head on the floor three times and slapping her face.

At some point during the incidents, according to the report, the woman lost consciousness.

Police said the woman’s injuries were consistent with her version of the story. Meanwhile, her mother provided photos from a previous incident during which Petetit allegedly choked the girlfriend against the bathroom wall and punched holes in the wall next to her face.

When police later asked Petetit if he wanted to give a statement, he allegedly said, “No, I will let my attorney handle this.”

After Petetit was arrested, his attorney, Patrick L. Fisher, issued a statement saying his client “is adamant that the accusations against him are completely false.”

This isn’t the first time Petetit has been accused of battering a woman.

In August 2012, according to court records, Santa Barbara police responded to a hotel room where Petetit had been staying with a different girlfriend. The girlfriend was found sobbing on the floor, with red marks on her neck, according to a report from the Santa Barbara Police Department. Several items in the room had been knocked to the ground, the police noted. However, the girlfriend did not wish to pursue charges, insisting she would not cooperate with any prosecution of Petetit.

On New Year’s Day 2013, Pismo Beach police responded to another incident, this one outside a bar, involving the girlfriend from the Santa Barbara incident. Again, police reported, the woman had red marks on her neck and a visible red bump on her head.

The woman told Pismo police that Petetit had become angry, believing she had flirted with another man at the bar. The woman said Petetit threw his drink on her, grabbed her by the throat with both hands, lifted her off the ground and slammed her head against a concrete bench. A witness said he saw the woman slap Petetit before he grabbed her by the throat.

The woman told police that Petetit becomes violent when drinking and had battered her more times than she had reported.

The District Attorney’s Office filed a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury in that case, which was eventually dismissed.

Petetit has temporarily stepped down as CEO of PB Companies. The real estate development and investment firm has been involved in several high-profile developments, including the San Luis Obispo Public Market being built at the Long-Bonetti Ranch on South Higuera Street, and an office, retail and restaurant project planned for the former location of Foster’s Freeze in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Patrick S. Pemberton: 805-781-7903, @ppemberton

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