Friday, December 10, 1999
Prosecutor is in grip of ultra-feministsBy Martha A. Churchill
The Detroit News
They are extremists, even by Ann Arbor standards. They want every man in jail, if he so much as touches his wife or girlfriend. Rude comments by men should result in criminal prosecutions for domestic violence. And women never lie about such things, they insist.
These ultra-feminists are none other than Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie and attorney Lore A. Rogers, the legal director of Safe House, our domestic violence shelter. They spoke to a luncheon crowd of attorneys in Ann Arbor recently about domestic violence, as part of Bias Awareness Week.
Rogers emphasized the horrible and sadistic crimes against women disclosed at Safe House, comparing a survivor of domestic violence to a prisoner of war.
While Rogers waxed eloquently about the terrors of battered wives, Mackie made it plain that he does not limit himself to prosecutions of the worst cases. He takes minor pushing and shoving cases, and even crude remarks, as grounds for criminal prosecution.
Were charging pushes, he declared. There is no such thing as a nonserious assault.
To the glee of his radical-feminist constituents, Mackie tolerates no plea bargaining with domestic violence defendants, no matter how minor the incident alleged, no matter how shaky the evidence.
In a more rational world, a first-time offender might get a deferred sentence, requiring him to serve a period of probation and then leave the court system with a clean record. Mackie actually boasts about his no-deferred-sentences policy, which forces many defendants to trial.
Ironically, larger numbers of defendants are acquitted at trial, especially the ones accused of minor skirmishes. As a result, Ypsilanti Township has jumped ship from Mackies office and prosecutes its own domestic violence cases, so more of its truly violent men will be convicted.
Despite the defection by one township, Mackie insists that minor-sounding allegations deserve his utmost prosecutorial attention. No murder started out as murder, he warned. There were steps along the way.
No doubt Safe House harbors some of Mackies strongest supporters. Subsidized by taxpayers and an outpouring of private charity, the domestic violence shelter flexes real political muscle for its anti-male stance. Safe House workers assume the worst about men. Women with fantastic reports of violence get an unskeptical audience at the shelter.
Rogers is no skeptic. When the police come to the scene, they are seeing a snapshot, she explained. Its not usually the first assault that they see, even if it is the first report of domestic violence from that family. Staff from Safe House generally get to the truth of the matter, as Rogers tells it, by digging for more information that the man has previously held a loaded gun to the womans vagina, for example.
Its wrong to treat him as a first-time offender just because he is reported to the police for the first time, according to Rogers. In her view, the guy should be punished as a repeat offender on his first arrest, since he was probably guilty of earlier crimes and just didnt get caught.
Mackie echoes the Safe House view that women are innocent, passive creatures. Thats why he makes an exception to his no-deferred-sentences policy for the occasional damsel in distress, if she is charged with domestic violence.
Usually, the man has been assaulting her before the police show up, Mackie observed. The poor woman, worn down by abuse, erupts in frustration. So she smacks him right in front of the deputies, as Mackie tells it.
That explains why the prosecutor gives deferred sentences to women. Any female who strikes her mate has good cause. Get it? And any man who does the same thing to his wife or girlfriend must be a sadistic, loathsome predator.
Under the Constitution, everyone should be treated equally by our elected officials, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. But in Ann Arbor, men seem to get prosecuted on the flimsiest evidence, while women get a free ride even if they are caught in the act.
A divorce lawyer in the audience gently challenged the male-bashing attitude expressed by the prosecutor and asked how the courts should deal with accusations made during a bitter divorce, especially when child custody is at issue.
Rogers quickly dismissed the notion that women might make false accusations. We know about separation and leaving, she explained. If the woman has been tortured for years, she will speak up only after she has left the beast who hurt her.
Not surprisingly, domestic violence cases doubled in Washtenaw County soon after Mackie took office as prosecutor seven years ago. Mackie does not attribute a single case to the combative woman trying to manipulate her divorce judge. The way he sees it, every accusation by a woman is the Gospel truth. People know it will be taken seriously, and so they report it, he says.
The prosecutor should take it seriously enough to ask whether the accusations are true in each individual case. Then, we could protect our women and men.
Martha A. Churchill is an attorney in Milan, Mich. Write letters to The Detroit News, Editorial Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, Mich. 48226, or fax us at (313) 222-6417, or send an e-mail to email@example.com
Copyright 1999, The Detroit News