Editor’s note: This article includes sexual language.
A Juneau man on Tuesday was found not guilty of second-degree assault after it was argued that bruises on his wife’s face were caused by consensual sex acts, not domestic violence.
Jason Traver, 41, appeared before Superior Court Justice Daniel Schally where a jury found Traver not guilty for the crime of second-degree assault, serious injury with reckless behavior, a class B felony. Jennifer Traver, Jason’s wife, has maintained for years that her injuries were a result of consensual BDSM sexual behaviors that are a regular part of their relationship.
It’s the end of a three-year trial dating back to Oct. 12, 2019. On Sept. 5 of that same year, police were called to the Travers’ home after one of their daughters reported to a teacher that their mother, Jennifer, had noticeable injuries on her face and wasn’t moving from the couch that morning, according to court documents.
At that time, Jennifer Traver refused to explain her injuries to police before Jason Traver said that a verbal argument had turned physical the night before, at which point police placed Jason Traver under arrest, according to court documents.
Traver was charged with three counts of first-, second-, and third-degree assault, serious injury with a weapon, however, on Friday, April 21, Schally granted judgment of acquittal on all three charges, ruling that there was not sufficient evidence to determine that a weapon had been used to cause Jennifer Traver’s injuries. The state had filed for an additional assault charge but rather than granting that, Schally amended an original first-degree assault charge to a lesser charge of second-degree assault, serious injury with reckless behavior.
In the initial police report, Jennifer Traver was observed as having a black eye, bruising around her throat and dried blood coming from one of her ears and on her clothing. Medical records substantiated police findings and further indicated that Jennifer Traver had suffered a cerebral hematoma, causing minor bleeding in the brain from being punched, which Jennifer Traver later denied telling doctors while taking the stand on Monday.
“No one was out of control,” Jennifer Traver said from the witness stand. “Nothing was above the pain threshold, I was completely comfortable.”
Jennifer Traver wrote a letter to the editor to the Anchorage Press on June 6, 2020, professing her husband’s innocence, stating that she was forced to go to the hospital by the Office of Children’s Services and further accusing the district attorney of being very “vanilla” in response to Jennifer and Jason Traver’s sex life. Jennifer Traver stated in her letter that due to her having undergone an emergency cesarean delivery for the couple’s fourth child roughly three weeks prior to Jason Traver’s arrest, Jennifer Traver had requested that her husband “slap [her] face, choke, and bite [her],” while performing other sex acts, as a way of avoiding the sensitive area of her stomach.
Prosecutors argued that it was about a month after the initial incident took place that the story emerged regarding rough sex as the reason for Jennifer Traver’s injuries.
After several hours of deliberation across Monday and Tuesday, jurors found Jason Traver not guilty.
Jason Traver has been out of custody since November 2019 and remained so once the jury trial resumed on Monday, April 17. According to prosecuting attorney Jessalyn Gillum, the case was held up for as long as it was due to the case coinciding with the pandemic, along with turnover within both offices and motions filed throughout the proceeding.
Jason Traver was represented by defense attorney Nicholas Ambrose, who declined comment, as did Gillum.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.