Swiss artist Tobias Madison pleaded guilty to one count of assault in the third degree and one count of harassment in New York criminal court on Wednesday, January 22, the Art Newspaper reports. The charges against Madison were filed after an incident in December 2018, when according to a complaint filed by the District Attorney’s office, the New York–based artist hit and strangled his ex-girlfriend then struck her head against a wall, “causing swelling to the head, concussion, and substantial pain.”
If he complies with certain conditions set by the court, Madison will be able to clear his record of the assault charge next year. The artist must not be arrested again within the next twelve months. He also must take part in a twenty-six-week batterers program in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland; see a therapist; send progress reports to the DA’s office; and respect an order of protection, which forbids him from contacting the victim. If he abides by these stipulations, the assault charge will be dismissed and he can replead to harassment in the second degree with time already served.
The DA’s office originally charged Madison with four misdemeanors, including assault, attempted assault, criminal obstruction of breathing of blood circulation, and harassment. In court, Assistant District Attorney Kirstie Raffan stated: “The People believe that each of the charged crimes in this case, and their underlying facts as articulated in the criminal complaint, can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This is based, among other things, on the defendant’s own statements, texts, and emails, and statements from the victim.” However, Raffan said, Madison was given the chance to plead to lesser charges “to give the defendant an opportunity to take responsibility for his conduct and work to avoid re-offending.”
The case against Madison first surfaced in the media when a group of cultural figures wrote a “Letter of Concern” to the Swiss Institute in New York over the artist’s inclusion in the exhibition “life and limbs” (2019). Organized by Los Angeles–based writer Kate Wolf, a friend of his ex-girlfriend—and signed by Domenick Ammirati, Jennifer Boysen, Max Maslansky, Jillian McManemin, Ariana Reines, and Rebecca Watson Horn, among others—the document asked the institution to address the domestic violence allegations. In response, director Simon Castets said the Swiss Institute would not be able to comment on the issue due to the ongoing legal action.