A Santa Fe real estate agent with a history of domestic violence charges will spend up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to counts of beating, kidnapping and detaining two women he met on online dating sites.
Shawn McCourt, 52, agreed to a plea deal in two separate cases. He initially faced rape charges in one of them, which stemmed from an incident in May 2020, but those were dropped as part of the deal.
McCourt was sentenced Tuesday to a total of 22½ years — 4½ years in a case that dates back to 2018 and 14 years in the 2020 case — plus an additional four-year enhancement for being a habitual offender. The judge suspended 13½ years of the sentence and gave McCourt one year of credit for time he already has served in jail since his arrest last year.
He is required to serve four years in prison before he is eligible for parole and was ordered to pay restitution to the two victims.
State prosecutor Blake Nichols told the court McCourt’s internet access will be strictly supervised, and he will not be allowed to have any social media or dating profiles. He also is prohibited from contacting the two women.
In the 2020 case, court records say, a woman told police McCourt had beaten and raped her after she returned to his home on Galisteo Street to get her glasses following an argument. McCourt punched her in the face so hard some of her teeth fell out, she said, causing over $20,000 worth of dental surgeries.
In December 2018, Santa Fe police responded to a call at the Sage Inn from a woman who said McCourt, her boyfriend at the time, had punched her in the face, suffocated her and then refused to let her leave the hotel room after an argument, according to court documents.
McCourt pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated battery of a household member and false imprisonment in the 2018 case.
He also pleaded guilty to a first-degree count of kidnapping, aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm and two counts of aggravated battery on a household member in the 2020 case.
One of the women testified in court Tuesday. “From the time Shawn hit me, nothing would ever be the same for me,” she said. “Shawn McCourt has set out to destroy women like me. … I am definitely too strong for that.”
She said she now suffers from anxiety, panic and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the attack.
The second woman provided a written statement to the court: “I do not believe five years will make a difference in you beating women,” she wrote. “I worry about women in society who come across you. … I hope you will ask God why you hate women so much.”
At a court hearing in May 2020, in which a prosecutor successfully sought to have McCourt jailed without bond until his trial, a prosecutor recounted a series of allegations of violence against women.
In November 2017, he was charged with kidnapping and beating a woman in Santa Fe, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. The woman later recanted her story.
In March 2019, he was convicted in Colorado of false imprisonment of the same woman and other charges. He was sentenced to two years of probation.
According to the prosecutor, that woman also accused McCourt of trying to strangle her in September 2017 in Florida. The results of that case are unclear.
Another woman accused McCourt of domestic violence in Santa Fe in February 2018, but those charges were dismissed because a key witness would not testify at his trial, court documents show.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said the women in the most recent cases in Santa Fe were incredibly cooperative and stood up for other victims of McCourt who could not speak for themselves.
“At long last, Shawn McCourt is facing justice and going to prison for his predatory behavior towards women,” Carmack-Altwies said. “McCourt has had a long history of prowling for women online, gaining their trust, and then turning the relationships violent and dehumanizing.”