HOULTON, Maine — A recent uptick in the number of domestic violence cases handled by the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office is drawing the attention of administrators.

Sheriff Darrell Crandall said Wednesday that in the last five days, deputies have been called to four incidents in which suspects have been arrested for assaulting domestic partners. The charges in three of those four cases have been elevated to felony level either because of the serious nature of the assaults or because of prior domestic assault convictions, according to Crandall.

One arrest occurred on May 27, when Timothy Frost, 32, of Woodland was charged with aggravated domestic assault after he allegedly attacked a woman and she stabbed him in self-defense, according to police. That incident sent both Frost and the victim to the hospital.

Crandall also said that on May 29, Joshua Theriault, 30, was arrested for aggravated domestic assault in Cross Lake after the victim was taken to Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent. The next day, deputy sheriffs arrested Eurico Barbosa, 47, in New Limerick, for domestic assault. Barbosa had one prior conviction in Maine, Crandall said.

The charges against all three are Class B crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

On May 31, deputy sheriffs also arrested Michael Beaulieu, 59, in St. John, charging him with misdemeanor-level domestic assault and domestic violence criminal threatening.

Crandall noted that all of these suspects are considered innocent unless proven guilty.

“While our overall complaints of domestic violence are down this year over the first five months of last year by more than 20 percent, this recent rise has us concerned,” Crandall said.

The sheriff noted that the surge is “taking place all over the County,” and he said that he could not put his finger on why it is happening. He also said that it is not something that just his department is seeing.

“I talked to Chief Joe McKenna at the Houlton Police Department and they are seeing a rise as well,” he said. “It is a reality. No one thing is causing it.”

Crandall noted that “violence of any kind between domestic partners or family members is never OK.”

“When we become aware of it, we will intervene,” he said. “In some cases these investigations and subsequent prosecutions are made more difficult by victims refusing to fully cooperate. However, under Maine law we do not need the continued cooperation of the victim.

“It is well known and well documented that victims of domestic violence often find themselves feeling trapped in their situations; struggling to find an escape for themselves, their children and even their pets,” Crandall said. “Offenders will often threaten victims. If you are aware of domestic violence, report it.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 1-866-834-4357, TRS 1-800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.