Tough words from Florida judge as she sends abuse victim to jail

SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL (KTRK) -- A Florida courtroom judge shamed a victim of domestic violence before sentencing her to three days in jail for failing to show up to her abuser's trial and showing contempt of court, ABC affiliate WFTV reports.

According to court documents, the woman was supposed to testify against the father of her 1-year-old child who was accused of choking her and threatening her with a kitchen knife. She didn't show up to the trial.

"Your honor, I'm very sorry for not attending the last one," the mother tells the judge through tears. "I've been dealing with depression and just a lot personally since this happened. My anxiety is like, this is everyday for me."

The woman then explained that she did not want the alleged abuser to be convicted because when he'd been jailed previously, he'd lost his job and had been unable to pay child support. She said she'd lost her house and was now homeless.

But Judge Jerri Collins is unsympathetic.

"You were required to be here by a court order," Collins said before issuing her decision. "You disobeyed a court order, knowing that this was not going to turn out well for the state."

According to the Department of Justice, victims' refusal to cooperate is "the prime reason prosecutors drop or dismiss domestic violence cases."

Collins promptly sentenced the woman to three days in jail.

"Judge, I'll do anything. ... I have a 1-year-old son and I'm trying to take care of him by myself. I'm begging you, please, please don't," she is heard saying while deputies placed her in handcuffs.

The CEO of SafeHouse, an organization that offers shelter to abuse victims, says the judge made a mistake.

"There's no -- absolutely nothing that I could think of that would be the reason to re-victimize this person by putting her in jail, and so I don't understand where that thinking came from," Jeanne Gold told ABC News.

She's now planning on speaking with the judge about how domestic violence victims should be handled in the future.

ABC News contributed to this report.
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