Police: Olive Garden waiter helps get man arrested for beating wife

By Dan Stokes - [email protected]

WILKES-BARRE — A man was arrested by city police on domestic violence charges after a woman reported to an Olive Garden waiter Monday that she was beaten, court records say.

Michael Balent Jr., 34, of Pershing Street, Wilkes-Barre, was later arrested at the eatery for the alleged assault that occurred Sunday.

According to the criminal complaint:

Balent and his wife sat down for a meal at the Olive Garden. Their waiter, Nick Bidwell, observed bruising all over the woman’s face and that she could barely speak and place her order.

The woman told the waiter she was in an “incident” a few days ago.

Bidwell told police he saw Balent lift up his menu to speak to his wife in private. Upon seeing this, Bidwell informed his manager, Ralph Metschault.

When Balent got up to use the restroom, his wife approached Bidwell asking if he could call her mother.

After communicating with Balent’s wife, Bidwell told Metschault to call the police.

Metschault told police Balent’s wife slipped him a note with her address. The note was later placed into evidence.

When officers arrived, Balent was arrested and transported to police headquarters.

The woman told police Balent assaulted her inside their residence after she refused his request to have sex. She had bruising all over her body and face. Her face was so swollen she could barely speak.

In fear of retaliation from her husband, police assured the woman she was safe and they would take all necessary measures to protect her.

The woman stated Balent became angry and wrapped both hands around her neck and began to strangle her. He then stopped and began to punch her in the face and ribs. After the beating, he ripped her clothes off and dragged her outside before bringing her back in the house.

She said she was unable to call police Sunday night because Balent did not allow her to be alone.

While in police custody, Balent denied beating his wife.

He said she was hurt in a vehicle accident on Interstate 80 but couldn’t pinpoint a specific spot when officers asked where.

Balent had scratches on his face, appearing to be defensive wounds from his wife. Balent told officers he suffered the scratch marks because someone recently tried to rob him of his keys and cellphone.

Balent was arraigned Tuesday by District Judge Alexandra Kokura Kravitz in Luzerne County Central Court on charges of strangulation, simple assault and harassment. He was jailed at the county lockup for lack of $25,000 bail.

A preliminary hearing is set for July 19.


By Dan Stokes

[email protected]

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes