Group calls for change in domestic abuse cases

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Nearly 4 out of every 5 domestic violence cases in the city of Toledo are dismissed or reduced to lesser charges, and that has one group calling for change.

Domestic violence cases can be extremely difficult to prosecute because the victims don't show up to court, and they're often the only witnesses.

"Feeling just so small, not just the physical, but mentally you feel like there's nowhere else to go."

said Andrea, a victim of domestic violence, who was in several abusive relationships, but never went through the legal process to bring her abusers to court in part due to fear.

Andrea isn't alone. The Group Independent advocates outlined what it says are problems with how domestic violence is handled in Toledo municipal court, and found of the nearly 16-hundred cases, about 80 percent were dismissed or reduced. Only 11 percent resulted in a conviction, and only about half of the victims appeared in court.

"I think we need to roll up our sleeves and do the work instead of saying it's too hard, it's too expensive, it's too challenging." University of Toledo Professor Celia Williams explained.

The group's leaders want a dedicated judge and prosecutor and a separate docket to handle domestic violence cases.

Municipal court judge Michael Goulding says municipal court has made improvements. Last month a security guard was stationed in court hallways, and prosecutors can use victim testimony via video conferencing.

"It's possible I'd hope in the future we could have a dedicated docket in some fashion for dv but at present we're doing the best we can with the limited resources we have." said Judge Goulding.

A university of Toledo study, released Tuesday, found changes could come at a cost of less than $80,000.

Copyright 2012 Toledo News Now.  All rights reserved.