Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Protecting or Re-Victimizing a Victim?

Judge Marc Lubet heard a request last Friday from the victim of Charles Allen Ford (pictured here), convicted in July of Aggravated Battery (Great Bodily Harm). Ford was also initially charged with Burglary of Dwelling with Assault/Battery and Battery after a particularly gruesome assault on his victim with a hammer, but those charges were dropped in exchange for the plea.

In monitoring this case, CourtWatch saw how truly difficult a judge's job can be - trying to balance the requirements of the Law against the often opposing wishes of the victim. Ford's victim repeatedly told the State that she wanted to prosecute and told Defense Counsel that she wanted to drop charges. Ultimately, because both sides were convinced of what she had told them, Judge Lubet issued a Material Witness Warrant in June to have her picked up and to testify in court as to what her real position was. Click here for more info.

When she first appeared before the judge, she affirmed her desire to testify on behalf of the State and the judge released her. She then failed to appear for trial, and a second warrant was issued. This time Judge Lubet had her held at the jail. Only after Mr. Ford knew that his victim was in custody and was prepared to testify, did he accept the State's plea offer of 4 years in the Department of Corrections.

It is important to note that this was not Ford's first assault on an intimate partner. He has had several other women (5 or 6 I believe) whom have been victimized by him but who have been intimidated into dropping charges.

Is this re-victimizing the victim by incarcerating her and charging her for costs of investigation? Yes.

Is it also doing what was necessary to uphold the Law and make a batterer be accountable for his actions? Yes.

Is it the judge's responsibility to protect the victim against making bad choices that could lead to her being in a position to be assaulted or even killed? You tell me.

The result of Friday's hearing? Judge Lubet denied the victim's request to visit Mr. Ford while he is incarcerated for the next four years. He told her that he would not be party to permitting Ford to continue to victimize her.

CourtWatch likes to see perpetrators held accountable for their crimes, particularly as it relates to repeat offenders and we commend the judge for doing precisely that. But we don't like seeing victims re-victimized by the justice system.

In spite of the expenses incurred in tracking her down, CourtWatch thinks the Court should waive the costs of investigation in this matter. If Ford is/was financially supporting her, having this added financial burden continues to make her feel dependent upon him and his family, thereby making it more difficult for her to make a break from them.

Was this justice? How would you have handled the case?


  1. It's an outrage to me that the State be allowed to offer him as little as 4 yrs and sentencing him thus. With his priors and the gruesome way of beating her they shouldn't give him another oppurtunity to beat, maim or perhaps kill another woman. 4 yrs passes to quick. The State should be held accountable in future years if this man hurts another woman! I believe the Judge did whathe needed to do to help this woman who is obviously confused and needing mental health counseling but I agree with you that the fees need to be dropped in lieu of her retaiing counseling.

  2. Though I don't like the way this was handled - I would have to agree with it. What else was the judge to do? The judge would of been blasted if he didn't do something to protect her (even though she refused to testify again) and the judge would of been blasted if he did. I feel the judge did what he had to do - even though I wish there was a better way.

  3. The judge did the right thing. If he did not corral her in jail, and hold the bad guy accountable, she would have likely gotten more severely hurt or killed, and at a minimum we taxpayers would have paid for one or more cycles thru the court system. To me because of the abuse she was under, she was not capable of making a sound decision to end this, so he did it for her. Hopefully in 4 years her head will clear and she will realize she needs to stay away.