Update: On May 18, 2020, John Cascone pleaded in a deal that reduced the felony battery and domestic battery by strangulation charges to a first-degree misdemeanor battery charge the state attorney had filed. He was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, with the possibility of terminating probation after six months. Probation was terminated on Dec. 10, 2020.
When Flagler County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house on Willow Oak Way in Palm Coast Saturday evening, a naked woman was at the door, holding a robe against her and saying that her husband had been beating her “all night” and refusing to let her leave the master bedroom. The woman was eventually hospitalized and feared returning home.
By Sunday evening, after a 24-hour investigation, deputies arrested her husband–John J. Cascone, 54, a well-known surgeon at AdventHealth Palm Coast–on charges of aggravated battery, a second degree felony, and battery by strangulation, a third degree felony. Cascone posted bail on $5,250 bond early this afternoon and was released. A no-contact order is in effect regarding his wife, pending court proceedings.
As is often the case in domestic incidents, deputies got conflicting stories. The alleged victim, who is 43, told deputies Saturday night that the couple had gone out drinking, had gotten into a verbal altercation on the way home. Once there, she claims her husband restricted her to the master bedroom, took away her keys and her phone and “attempted to forcefully make her take medication (later discovered to be sleeping medication),” according to the arrest report. The woman said she managed to make it out of the master bedroom and into her 5-year-old daughter’s room, but on the way Cascone allegedly “pushed her causing her to fall and hit the back·of her head on the tile floor.”
An ambulance was dispatched to the scene. Paramedics confirmed that the woman had a large lump on the head, though she refused additional medical treatment or to be transported to the hospital. Her story “then began to change,” the report states. She spoke of an eating disorder and of going to the bathroom to throw up after returning home, of possibly passing out and of Cascone, attempting to “carry/drag her out of the spare bathroom” possibly striking her head on the wall or door frame. She said she suffers from short-term memory loss and could not completely recall what had taken place.
Speaking with deputies, Cascone said the couple had gone to Hooligan’s earlier and that his wife had had a few shots of tequila before leaving. She went to the bathroom on returning home. He found her there unresponsive and naked. He said he “attempted to pick her up and drag her out of the bathroom back to the master bedroom,” but she became “combative,” they fell to the floor together, and she may have hit her head at that point. He managed to get her back to the bedroom and tried to give her the nightly medication she takes regularly, but soon found it scattered on the floor. He said he “he attempted to have [his wife] help clean up the pills as he did not want their small dog ingesting the medications.” She allegedly became combative again, and he called 911.
He told deputies of an injury his wife sustained three years earlier, with lingering effects on her short-term memory. He didn’t deny keeping her phone: he said he often kept both his and her phone and both their sets of keys together, and the lot was found in the clothes hamper with his pants, unhidden. Meanwhile his wife was alleging to deputies that he’d been violent with her all night, though a deputy could detect only “minimal indication that a physical altercation had occurred.” Because of the conflicting stories, and the couple agreeing to separate for the night (Cascone agreed to spend the night at a motel, where he was taken by deputies in a “courtesy ride”), no charges were filed Saturday night.
Cascone’s wife meanwhile contacted her ex-husband–a family friend, with all parties agreeing to the arrangement–who picked her up and her daughter. A deputy recommended that the woman be taken to the hospital.
The ex-husband did indeed take the alleged victim to AdventHealth. There, physicians discovered she had an active brain bleed. She was transferred to U.F. Health in Jacksonville, where she spoke with a Duvall County sheriff’s deputy, making “concerning statements” about how she may have suffered her injuries. Speaking at that point to a Flagler deputy, her description of the Saturday night sequence of events was more graphic. She said she wanted an injunction against her husband but was afraid to do anything. She spoke again of the evening at the restaurant and the drinks, but once home she described an allegedly more brutal encounter in the bathroom, where she said her husband was violent–pulling her hair, punching the back of her head, trying to shove pills in her mouth and dragging her out of the bathroom.
She then said she did not want her husband arrested. “She then stated that that her husband’s behavior should not be tolerated but he is not a bad person and he just has psychological and financial problems and lost control,” according to the report. “She then denied the information she had provided and stated that she experienced memory loss from a previous traumatic event. She advised that she has documented short term memory loss and that she obtained all of these injuries from falling on her back.” The deputy, however, now observed and catalogued a list of bruises and injuries “consistent with the original story she provided.” A registered nurse reported to the deputy “varying stages of healing bruises all over [the woman]’s body.” The nurse “also advised that the admitting doctor and nurse immediately suspected assault upon [the woman]’s arrival at that hospital,” according to the report.
The alleged victim Sunday evening contacted the deputy and told him she feared returning home if her husband was there. She was assured that a sheriff’s escort would be present. By then deputies had determined they had probable cause to arrest Cascone.