The Columbus, Georgia Recorder’s Court has been fining victims of domestic abuse who decline to testify against their alleged abuser, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The Southern Center for Human Rights on Wednesday sued in U.S. District Court in Macon, charging that domestic violence victims in Columbus are required by city ordinance to help law enforcement prosecute their attackers. If they don’t — even if they did not report the abuse — they must be fined.
“The city’s policy toward women experiencing domestic violence sounds like something out of the 19th century,” said attorney Sarah Geraghty with the Southern Center. “It’s a holdover from an era in which women were blamed for male violence.”
The suit said women who ask that charges be dropped or who refuse to testify against spouses or boyfriends are ordered to pay a “victim assessment” of at least $50 — and often several times that much — “without any consideration of the circumstances of their cases or their reasons for desiring not to prosecute.”
The complaint was brought in the name of Cleopatra Harrison, 22, who earns $12 an hour as a cleaning and food service contractor at Fort Benning. The defendants listed in the suit are Recorder’s Court Judge Michael Cielinski, Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr, Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren and officer Michael Lincoln.
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