Thursday, September 24, 2015


By Dr. Michael Vandehey
Professor of Psychology at ­Midwestern State University and
Shelly Wilbanks...
Assistant Criminal District Attorney in Wichita County

"Therefore, we cannot require a victim to leave her abuser as a condition of or prerequisite for pursuing criminal charges. That does not mean we should disregard the victim’s preference, especially when she informs us that she has no interest in prosecuting and will not cooperate, significantly increasing the difficulty of proving our case. However, while it is necessary to evaluate each case with a critical and discerning eye—and certainly not every assault family violence case is a righteous case worth pursuing. Dismissing a family violence case solely because the victim is too afraid of retaliation, too weak due to psychological conditioning, or too trapped financially to cooperate is not doing justice and not doing our jobs.

If there is evidence—pictures, 911 calls, medical records, and/or other witnesses—that would enable us to proceed without the victim’s testimony, or treating her as an adverse witness, we should. The defendant is counting on us to dismiss the case when the victim files an affidavit of non-prosecution. In fact, he is likely pressuring her to do so and promising her anything he thinks will convince her to “drop the charges” against him. If we proceed anyway, the defendant may take a plea—if not before trial, then when the victim responds to the subpoena and shows up at trial. When we proceed in spite of the victim’s initial refusal to cooperate, she has the opportunity to change her mind before the case goes to trial. This often happens when the defendant returns to his old ways and assaults her again or fails to make good on the promises he made in exchange for filing that affidavit.

Finally, the reaction of the legal system is important, and there could be consequences to our inaction. Especially in strangulation cases, the victim may not survive the next assault as strangulation is an indicator of lethality. One of the children could be injured or, in more extreme situations, if we do not make an effort to hold the defendant accountable, the victim may see death (his or hers) as her only escape. If women do not believe they will be believed or protected by the legal system, they may very well be taking their lives into their own hands by leaving.21

In addition, though no prosecutor likes to lose, when we make the effort, we send a message to the victim. We tell her that the defendant’s actions are not only unacceptable but criminal, and we are willing to stand up for her. Knowing this could alleviate some of her fear and motivate her to seek out assistance through other avenues or to cooperate the next time it happens. And we all know it will."


Anonymous said...

Get your facts straight. The DA office does not accept affidavits of non prosecution from victims. It was a policy implemented when Luis took office specifically to proceed with the prosecution of defendants without victim cooperation.

BobbyWC said...

You con artist just cannot help yourself. Where did I say he takes such affidavits.

The substance of the article is to prosecute no matter what the victim says - period. At a substantive level what is the difference between an affidavit and making the victim go before the judge and say they do not want to prosecute - the latter is actually another form of abuse and the latter is what Saenz is doing. It was in his press release and every state and national organization I discussed the policy with were horrified a DA could so cruel and ignorant at the same time.

Bobby WC