Columbia City Councilman Moe Baddourah has been charged with criminal domestic violence after an altercation with his estranged wife.
Baddourah allegedly slammed his estranged wife’s leg in a car door after an argument at Rockaway Athletic Club restaurant and bar on Rosewood Drive just after 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Baddourah and his wife were meeting there to drop off and pick up their children in a custody exchange, the sheriff’s department said.
The Columbia Police Department responded to the incident then requested the sheriff’s department to respond, the sheriff’s department said. The Columbia police chief reports to the city manager, who is hired by City Council.
Deputies charged 53-year-old Baddourah with 2nd-degree criminal domestic violence after he turned himself in on Saturday. The charge was elevated to 2nd degree because children were present.
The charge is a misdemeanor that carries, upon conviction, a fine of between $2,500 and $5,000 or up to three years in prison, or both.
The councilman was released from jail Saturday afternoon on the condition that he reappear in court as required or face a $10,000 fine. Judge Caroline Streater also ordered Baddourah not to have any contact with or go within 1,000 feet of his wife or their 4-year-old and 6-year-old children before an emergency Family Court hearing next week.
Columbia attorney Joe McCulloch represented Baddourah in county bond court Saturday. Baddourah’s wife, Carrie, also was present at the hearing.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Baddourah said he did not assault his wife. He said she had taken his cellphone and he was trying to get it back as she was closing the car door. The couple is going through an “unpleasant” divorce, he said.
Baddourah and his wife currently live in separate homes in the Shandon neighborhood, McCulloch said at the bond hearing. Baddourah has visitation rights with his children.
The second-term councilman, who represents District 3, ran unsuccessfully for mayor against incumbent Steve Benjamin in 2013. Baddourah has been known for standing up for small-business interests and frequently butting heads with Benjamin on council.
Baddourah until last year owned and operated Moe’s Grapevine restaurant. Now, he manages the McCutchen House restaurant and staff dining facility at the University of South Carolina and teaches in USC’s school of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.
Carrie Baddourah is a paralegal, according to the City of Columbia’s website.