She was beaten with a broomstick.  She was beaten with a belt.  She was held and savaged for two days in April, eventually being taken to the woods by her abuser to dig her own grave.  Somehow, she managed to survive and when Robert Robinson was arrested for her ordeal, she cooperated with the Maine authorities and the Kennebec Country District attorney, making several appointments at the attorney’s office.  Then something changed.  She failed to show up for a meeting in September.  She was uncooperative and missing.  She was unsuccessfully served with multiple subpoenas to appear at in court.  Finally, she was located and arrested, held for 17 hours as a material witness then released on $5,000 bail to ensure she showed up for Robinsons’ trial. The trial of the man who gave her the shovel to dig her own grave.

Should we hit her with a gavel or a broomstick?

Should we hit her with a gavel or a broomstick?

Fear or remorse?  It is common for abused women to feel both.  Often, they are emotionally damaged enough to believe that they are somehow, in some way responsible for the behavior of the animal who raises his fist, or belt, or broomstick against her.  Fear of being left alone.  Fear of retribution.  Fears that maybe those of us who are not in the cycle of abuse cannot grasp or rationalize.  Fear that sometimes keeps them chained until he finishes what he started and the shovel is put to use.

I am mixed on this.  I have seen the cycle up close.  Paper means nothing and a protection order usually ends up on the floor covered in the victim’s blood.  Abusers are rarely held pending trial.  You can’t legally hold her against her will any more than he could, even if it is in her best interest.  But once the wheels of justice are in motion, can she just walk away?  At that point, is she not just another “hostile” witness who needs to be compelled to testify against someone who surely needs to be taken off the streets?

There are twists here, like there are in most cases.  After his arrest, Robinson reached out to her by phone and letter.  Does one assume he called to wish her well? She even agreed to meet with Robinson’s attorney, William Baghdoyen, who confirmed the meeting.  Then she went silent.  She even confided to home care providers that she was going to disappear for a while. And she did.

So we are left with an abuser, a man with a violent criminal past who was out on bail, a witness who is his victim out on bail and a justice system and community wondering if charging her to make her appear at trial was the right thing to do.  How much more do we need to traumatize her?  Or, if we do not traumatize her and he walks, how long will it take before he finishes what he started or moves on to another victim entirely?  Whose best interest should we serve?

At the very least here, someone needs to explain to me why Robinson and his attorney are not in jail for witness tampering.  If Robinson kills again, can we hold this attorney liable, as an accomplice?  Surely he’s interested in “justice” for his abuser client, but does justice allow for letting the wolf back into the pen, free and unfettered to prey at will?  And what penalty is there for those who hold open the door to that pen, whether they have the coveted title of attorney or not?

After all the soul searching is done, after the trial, let’s hope the sentence he receives truly serves the best interest of society.  He was already a man with a violent past.  Let’s not let him walk out in 5 years toward an even more violent future.  That way, maybe we won’t have to traumatize another battered woman for her own good.

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