September 25, 2013

Bill Nemitz: I had 'no choice' but to jail victim, Maine DA says

By Bill Nemitz

(Continued from page 1)

Back to Baghdoyan, who argues that the DA blew it on the subpoenas and that Robinson, trial or no trial, would have stayed in jail on his probation violations and other charges.

Back to Maloney, who says that without Ruiz's testimony, any and all reasons for keeping Robinson behind bars (the probation violations, after all, were triggered by the latest criminal charges) quickly evaporate.

We could go on, but the bottom line is clear: The more distance Ruiz puts between herself and the witness stand, the greater the chance she'll be back in the emergency room -- or worse.

Maloney, predictably, has taken flak from many quarters since last week -- including those who say her office didn't try hard enough to serve the subpoenas.

That may be, although the suddenly out-of-service phone, the no-show at the DA's office and the impromptu chat with the defense attorney clearly suggest the state's star witness was in free-fall only days before she was to take the stand.

There's a bigger question here, however -- one that wasn't lost on the directors of the Family Violence Project when they gave Maloney a unanimous vote of confidence Monday evening: Should a victim of abuse be the sole arbiter in deciding whether her abuser gets prosecuted or gets "another chance?"

Or, in extreme cases, should the state step in and protect a victim not only from her abuser, but also from herself?

Maloney, to her credit, has opted for the latter.

Last fall, before she was elected district attorney on a platform that included "zero tolerance" for dropping domestic-abuse cases, Maloney attended an anti-domestic violence "Speak Out" event in Waterville.

One woman there spoke about the horrible abuse she had suffered and displayed X-rays of her broken pelvis and arm. Through it all, she said, "there was never a prosecution" of her abuser.

"Why not?" Maloney later asked her one-on-one.

The woman replied that at the time, she was completely powerless -- despite the hospital stays, the surgeries and other trauma, she remained "completely under his control" until one day she finally found the strength to leave and not look back. "I wish the state had stepped in. I wish they had taken over," she told Maloney. "I just couldn't make the decision that was best for me and best for my family."

Maybe Ruiz feels that woman's pain -- and maybe she doesn't.

Maybe she fully intended to show up in court at the appointed time -- and maybe she didn't.

But as Maloney tightropes between bad politics and good justice, she at least hasn't lost sight of the real goal here:

Love Robert Robinson Jr., hate him or somewhere in between, Jessica Ruiz needs to testify.


Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:


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