A central Florida judge is under fire for sentencing an emotionally distraught domestic violence victim to three days in jail for failing to show up in court to testify against her alleged abuser.
A newly released video shows Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins harshly criticizing the victim in a July 30th contempt of court hearing. The victim was scheduled to testify in court against Myles Brennan, the father of her 1-year-old son, NBC News reported.
The victim had reportedly asked to drop charges against Brennan, who was arrested back in April for choking the victim and threatening her with a knife as she held their infant, according to officials.
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Brennan was sentenced to 16 days in jail after pleading no contest to simple battery.
The woman claimed to have taken a domestic abuse class, then asked to drop the charges and wished to "move on" with her life, she says in court.
Still, Judge Collins demanded an explanation of her failure to appear.
The tearful woman is heard apologizing, claiming she had been dealing with depression, homelessness and anxiety since the abuse incident.
"You think you have anxiety now? You haven't seen anxiety," Judge Collins is heard saying.
Despite the woman's tearful plea, explaining that she is caring for the child alone, the judge found her in contempt of court and sentenced her to three days in the county jail. The decision was met with tears and a plea for mercy from the victim, but Judge Collins reaffirmed that she'd made her decision, and ordered the victim to "turn around" as she was handcuffed and led away.
Since the video surfaced, many have been critical of the judge's actions, saying that the harsh sentence served only to re-victimize the victim.
"I understand that the state wants to take criminals and get them off the streets, but you don't do it by re-victimizing a victim in this manner," Jeanne Gold - the CEO of SafeHouse, an organization that aids domestic abuse victims - told NBC News.
A spokesman for the circuit court that covers Seminole County told NBC News that they could not comment on "pending, or impending cases."