A Florida county judge has come under fire after she sentenced a domestic abuse victim to three days in jail for failing to testify against her abuser. A newly released video, from 30 July, shows Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins berating the victim and sending her to jail for contempt of court.
Collins was seen asking the domestic abuse victim to explain why she failed to appear to testify against Myles Maynard Brennan, the father of her one-year-old son. The woman tearfully explained that she has been "dealing with depression" and had experienced anxiety since the abuse incident, NBC News noted.
However, Collins was unmoved by the woman's response and replied: "You think you have anxiety now? You haven't seen anxiety." The woman pleaded with Collins to allow her to move on, telling the judge she had taken a domestic abuse class and was hoping to have the charges dropped. "I'm trying to move on with my life," she said. "I'm homeless now. I'm living with my parents. I'm just not in a good place right now."
The judge does not change her mind and instead finds the woman in contempt of court and sentences her to three days in county jail. "I have a one-year-old son and I'm trying to care of him by myself," the victim pleaded. "I'm begging you, please, please don't."
As the abuse victim was handcuffed, Collins said: "Turn around. You should have come to court. I've already issued my order." The woman's abuser was arrested on 2 April after being accused of choking the victim and threatening her with a knife as she held their one-year-old son. He was sentenced to 16 days in jail after pleading no contest to simple battery.
Activists working for domestic-violence-prevention groups criticised Collins for her callous attitude towards the abuse victim. SafeHouse CEO Jeanne Gold told the Orland Sentinel she was appalled by Collins's treatment of the victim.
"I can't blame the state for wanting to get a bad guy, but you cannot lean on a victim of domestic violence to solve the societal issues in our world," Gold said. "It's so unfair, and it just shows that there is a lot more education needed." A spokeswoman for the court said Collins would not comment on a case that could be appealed.