Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor said Sept. 8 he would no longer prosecute misdemeanors committed in Topeka, including domestic batteries. Taylor said he could no longer afford to prosecute those crimes after county commissioners approved a 2012 budget for his office that cut its funding by 10 percent from the 2011 amount. Taylor indicated his move would require the Topeka city attorney’s office to begin prosecuting those misdemeanors.
When Shawnee County, KS District Attorney Chad Taylor decided to hand over misdemeanor cases, like Claudine Dombrowski’s, to the city, she knew the consequences would be the hardest on victims of domestic violence. Dombrowski, a victim of violence for 16 years, who ultimately lost the right to custody or visitation with her daughter through years of wrangling in court, speaks from a position of experience and first hand knowledge.
A result of the new ruling, facing the consequences a victim could encounter when the abuser is arrested, then released, she advises victims not to call the police. She says, “You, as a survivor, know how to survive. You just keep surviving. If you call the police right now, and God forbid you end up with the city, you might die.”
Knowing how victims of violence are already treated in an over burdened system, Dombrowski knows it will be even worse if offenders are not properly prosecuted.
According to Kansas First News, ”We know of three cases where judges have released the people accused of domestic violence back out because it’s their understanding that the district attorney will not prosecute and so there may be more of these.”
“Topeka Police Officers are forwarding misdemeanor cases involving domestic violence to the District Attorney’s Office. Stanley says the D.A.’s office has already turned away 30 cases. He believes the victims and their families are most affected.”
National Intimate Partner Violence Strategist, Susan Murphy Milano says, “This could be a violation of Federal Laws set forth and signed, not with ink, but with the blood of those who have been killed as a result of intimate partner violence. Domestic violence is a criminal act, against the law. The city officials and the prosecutors need to go into the cemetary business because that’s what’s going to be the most profitable if they allow this to stand.”
Hoping that the city receiving the domestic violence cases is only temporary until the District Attorney’s Office can restore their funding,Dombrowski says, “We’ve just jumped back 30 years into the dark ages, and it’s very dark. The lights just went out in Topeka.”