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Hazards of (reporting) Intimate Partner Violence — Chicago, New York

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Here’s a woman who got the man out, and then the place she rented tried to put HER out.  USUALLY, the matter is economics, not altruism.

For this one, check out the lively comments following the post.  It dates back to October, 2009. 


Get him out, and risk getting thrown out yourself…  Guilty by association…

The Perils Of Reporting Domestic Abuse

We’ve already written about domestic violence as a pre-existing condition for health insurance {{So have I, on this blog…}}. Now recent cases show that victims who report abuse lose their homes — but people who don’t report it face jail time.

Sara Olkon of the LA Times tells the story of Kathy Cleaves-Milan, who called the police when her boyfriend threatened her and her daughter with a gun. Soon she’d been evicted from her Chicago apartment because a crime was committed there, even though she was the victim and not the perpetrator. She’s now suing Aimco, the company that owned her complex, for discrimination. Aimco spokeswoman Cindy Duffy says, “As the safety of our residents is our top priority, we have a zero-tolerance policy for any criminal activity at our communities.” She adds that “if there is an arrest or a violation, all of the occupants on that lease are subject to eviction,” and that “the basis for that eviction was the fact the violence had occurred.” But, somewhat inconsistently, she also claims that the reason Cleaves-Milan left was that she couldn’t pay her rent without her boyfriend’s help, an allegation Cleaves-Milan denies. Duffy said, “it certainly wasn’t our attempt to penalize her in any way for her situation,” but that’s exactly what the company did.

According to Olkon, federal law protects public housing residents from being evicted because of violence, and some states have enacted laws to protect the housing of domestic abuse victims, but no across-the-board protection for these victims exists — yet another reason for them not to speak out. Complicating the abuse picture further is the status of people who know about it but don’t speak up. Feministe pointed us to the story of Fannie Schwartz, an Amish woman charged with failing to report her husband Johnny’s sexual abuse of two teenage girls. Coverage of the case is a little confusing — prosecutor Danette Padgett says that though Schwartz didn’t go to the police, she “did, at different points in time, report it to the church and the church took care of that situation, in their opinion.” But according to another statement in the case, she “said it wasn’t bothering her like it should have been.” If convicted, she could serve several years in prison.

Feministe links Schwartz’s case to a recent Times article on sexual abuse within Orthodox Jewish communities. In that article, some members of these communities expressed the fear that trying to handle abuse accusations internally protected criminals and allowed them to hurt more victims. And the fact that Fannie Schwartz had to go to church elders “at different points in time” suggests that they weren’t effective at stopping the abuse the first time. Clearly religious communities aren’t always capable of protecting their own, and those who conceal an abuser’s actions deserve to face consequences. But Jill of Feministe handily sums up the complexities of Schwartz’s case:

[I]t’s rare to see criminal charges brought against non-abusers who knew about the abuse and didn’t interfere. Again, I don’t think it’s wrong to prosecute those who aid and abet abuse; I just wonder where we draw the line when it comes to knowing about and ignoring abuse, and how much we factor in obligation to the abused (i.e., in my opinion, it matters more if the person doing the ignoring had some degree of responsibility for the abused – a teacher, a doctor, a parent, etc), and the relative power of the abuser over the person who knew and did nothing.

The power of the abuser is an important concern here — someone who molests two teenage girls might well be capable of severely threatening his wife. And, says Sheriff Roye Cole, there are cultural issues at play in cases of abuse within the Amish community:

Do they even know they need to report it? Who’s going to report it? And how do they report it? I don’t think the Amish community’s going to have a list of phone numbers so they know to call the hotline. They need to know how to help children when they need it.

This last line applies not just to the Amish, but to Orthodox Jewish communities as well, and really to anyone who’s in a position to learn about child and domestic abuse. Both Schwartz’s story and the Times piece reveal the need for better relationships between law enforcement and religious groups, and for these groups to create an atmosphere where it’s easier for victims and those who know about abuse to come forward. As Cleaves-Milan’s case makes clear, this remains difficult, whether you’re a member of a religious minority or not. Many obstacles remain between reporting abuse and actually getting justice, and if our legal system is serious about reducing domestic violence and sexual assault, it needs to eliminate these obstacles.

Image via LA Times.

Domestic-Abuse Victim Says She Was Evicted For Reporting Crime [LA Times]
Amish Wife Is Accused Of Not Reporting Husband’s Sexual Abuse Of Girls [KY3.com]
Amish Wife Accused Of Not Reporting Sex Abuse [Feministe]
Orthodox Jews Rely More On Sex Abuse Prosecution [NYT]

Send an email to Anna North, the author of this post, at annanorth@jezebel.com.

NOTE:  Let’s Get Honest has not checked any subsidiary links on this one.  Others report the Aimco Fiasco, too:


  • Evicted Over Boyfriend’s Alleged Abuse, Woman Files Sex

    Oct 13, 2009 A representative of Aimco, the defendant company that owns and they evicted her, the 36-year-old tells the Chicago Tribune. Although some states have clear laws against evicting women due to domestic violence,
    http://www.abajournal.com/…/evicted_over_boyfriends_alleged_abuse_woman_sues_landlord_for_sex_discrimin/ – Cached
  • Management Company Sued For Evicting Victim of Domestic Violence

    Dec 18, 2009 that they violated the Fair Housing Act when they evicted a tenant as a result of domestic violence against her in her AIMCO apartment.
    shareinc.wordpress.com/…/management-company-sued-for-evicting-victim-of-domesticviolence/ – Cached
  • Clipmarks – Chicago tribune Clipmarks

    Luckily Aimco dropped this fee, but only after the Chicago Tribune inquired. While the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 protects domestic abuse victims housing from eviction, the law concerning private landlords is unclear.
    clipmarks.com/tags/chicago+tribune/ – Cached
  • Clipmarks – Domesticviolence Clipmarks

    POPSEvicted for Reporting Domestic Abuse. ljsdesign Luckily Aimco dropped this fee, but only after the Chicago Tribune inquired.
    clipmarks.com/tags/domesticviolence/ – Cached
  • Los Angeles Apartments 16 thru 25 for Rent – Los Angeles

    She was upset about being evicted. She soaked her mattress in gasoline and set it Do your homework before leasing an AIMCO Apartment – Hello People of
  • News

    January 1, 2010. Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Get New Legal Protections Chicago Tribune article by Megan Twohey Domestic-abuse victim says she was evicted for reporting crime She is now filing a lawsuit against Aimco, the company that owns and operates the apartment complex.
    bessconsortium.org/?option=com_content&view… – Cached
  • Domestic abuse call leads to help, then eviction for caller

    A day after the Chicago Tribune asked about this fee, Aimco officials decided to For victims of domestic violence, a call for help can lead to eviction
  • Family News

    Three weeks ago in family court, reviewing a domestic violence order for protection, the managers of her Elmhurst apartment complex served her with eviction papers for Attorneys for Cleaves-Milan have filed a lawsuit against Aimco, ….. Norberto Rodriguez was fired as a Chicago Police officer in 1997 for
    victimsoflaw.net/Motherhood.htm – CachedSimilar
  •  By the way, this last blog (victims of law.net/motherhood) is worth some serious perusal . . . .

    And here, “HOT OFF THE PRESS” is Page A1, New York Times: . . . . .Remember especially not to report if your abusers is highly placed….(said, tongue in cheek)

    (2) NEW YORK:

    (Not commenting on this here, just posting it.  I have to still digest..  …. My question:  WHAT was that violent situation doing in “FAMILY” court?  Because of a 4-year relationship, the woman had a 13 year old son; but he was not stepdad or anything approaching it, apparently.  This is a criminal matter, and like most criminal matter, it ends up in FAMILY court when a child is even within shouting distance.

    WHY?  That’s a good question.  Maybe the last post (California) has a clue….)
      Click here: Question of Influence in Abuse Case of Paterson Aide – NYTimes.com 
    “Last fall, a woman went to court in the Bronx to testify that she had been violently assaulted by a top aide to Gov. David A. Paterson, and to seek a protective order against the man.

    In the ensuing months, she returned to court twice to press her case, complaining that the State Police had been harassing her to drop it. The State Police, which had no jurisdiction in the matter, confirmed that the woman was visited by a member of the governor’s personal security detail.

    Then, just before she was due to return to court to seek a final protective order, the woman got a phone call from the governor, according to her lawyer. She failed to appear for her next hearing on Feb. 8, and as a result her case was dismissed.

    Many details of the governor’s role in this episode are unclear, but the accounts presented in court and police records and interviews with the woman’s lawyer and others portray a brutal encounter, a frightened woman and an effort to make a potential political embarrassment go away.

    The case involved David W. Johnson, 37, who had risen from working as Mr. Paterson’s driver and scheduler to serving in the most senior ranks of the administration, but who also had a history of altercations with women.

    On Wednesday night, in response to inquiries from The New York Times, Mr. Paterson said in a statement that he would request that Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo investigate his administration’s handling of the matter. The governor also said he would suspend Mr. Johnson without pay.

    Through a spokesman, Mr. Paterson said the call actually took place the day before the scheduled court hearing and maintained that the woman had initiated it. He declined to answer further questions about his role in the matter.

    The woman’s lawyer, Lawrence B. Saftler, said that the conversation lasted about a minute and that the governor asked how she was doing and if there was anything he could do for her. “If you need me,” he said, according to Mr. Saftler, “I’m here for you.”

    Mr. Saftler said the governor never mentioned the court case, but he would not say if the call had influenced her decision not to return to court.

    The call also came as The Times was examining the background of Mr. Johnson, whose increasing influence with the governor had disturbed some current and former senior aides to Mr. Paterson.

    Further on in the main article, Gov. Paterson notes he “fessed up” about extramarital affairs up front, lest he become, I guess, a Hot Mike Duvall or a Gov. Sanford. . . . But, us poor folk still get the abstinence education fer sure…

    The governor said he had met the woman only three or four times.

    Mr. Paterson, who has championed the cause of battered women, then made extended remarks on the case of Hiram Monserrate, the former state senator who was convicted of misdemeanor assault against his companion and ousted from the Legislature. Mr. Paterson said he was offended that while the woman had been granted an order of protection against Mr. Monserrate, the senator’s aides had continued to have contact with her and assist her.

    “The order of protection is designed to allow for independence of the victim,” he said. “This victim apparently had no independence.”

    He said the conduct of the aides warranted a criminal investigation, perhaps for witness intimidation.

    “There have got to be some issues or some questioning of this woman not on the witness stand about how she was handled,” the governor said. “Because that’s the whole essence of what domestic violence is. It’s control.”

    One of Mr. Paterson’s earliest steps after becoming governor in March 2008 was insisting that the State Police end any meddling in political matters.

    Mr. Paterson called on Mr. Cuomo to investigate the State Police, saying he believed there was a unit within the agency collecting information on public figures. He said such concerns led him to admit publicly, on his first full day in office, to having had extramarital affairs.

    Mr. Cuomo’s report, issued in September 2009, did not find a rogue political unit per se but did find evidence of political interference by senior police officials, including an episode in which a police superintendent ordered changes to a domestic violence report involving a Republican congressman, John E. Sweeney, to make it less damaging. Mr. Paterson and his superintendent, Mr. Corbitt, had pledged to overhaul the agency.


    ALSO IN NEW YORK (12/2009)

    NEW YORK  

    Outrage over convicted divorce judge

    By Thomas Tracy, YourNabe.com

    12-10-09 — The fact that disgraced judge Gerald Garson will be home for the holidays is “reprehensible” and a “mockery of justice,” a group of divorced mothers and domestic violence survivors claimed Monday as they protested the convicted septuagenarian’s early release from prison. . . . “Money talks and Garson walks,” screamed Karlene Gordon as she and a handful of protestors from the Voices of Women Organizing Project (VOW) stood across the street of Brooklyn Family Court on Jay Street Monday afternoon. “Gerald Garson and his partner in crime Paul Siminovsky deceived, corrupted and destroyed lives with judicial immunity and protection. Sentenced to a county club, resort-like prison, then allowed to escape his judicial slap on the wrist, Garson’s early release from jail is a slap in the faces of those lives he irreparably destroyed,” she added. “He will complete his sentence, yet the families he injured, on so many different levels, are still serving the sentence this felon imposed on them. His victims continue to suffer in silence without justice or recourse.” . . . Gordon said she knows about suffering in silence all too well.

    {{Garson case involved a pro-active woman helping get the evidence of bribery in case-fixing.  It’s fairly high-profile.  This response is not over-blown,a t all…}}}


    And lastly, California (FYI), from that victimsoflaw.org/motherhood site:


    You be the judge: A prayer for relief from court sanctioned child abuse

    LA Family Courts Examiner Laura Lynn

    This is the last in a series of the text of a Petition for Writ of Mandate to change venue of a family law case and other relief. You may want to read parts one, two and three first.

    8-30-09 — The Petitioner has no expectation that justice will be done here. She asked for justice May 27, 2008 from this court, and this court denied her request summarily. The Court is acting criminally and is making a concerted effort to ruin the Petitioner emotionally, physically and economically. . . . The Petitioner is not trained in the law, yet she is held to a standard that is far higher than the standard of the Court itself. . . . I pray that the Court will reconsider its ruling of May 29, 2008 and see that Commissioner Alan Friedenthal should have been disqualified from presiding over this case from the start. . . . Criminal charges should be filed against the parties who altered, falsified, and destroyed court documents. Criminal charges should be filed against the officers of the Court who held these corruptions in their hand and did nothing to further the cause of justice. Criminal charges should be filed in Federal Court against the Officers of the Court who perverted justice.

    Well, my friend, that just isn’t likely to happen.  Do like the woman did in Simonovsky/Garson — follow the money.  It got a slap on the wrist, at least.

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