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Saturday, May 7, 2022

No Place is Safe From Domestic Abuse

     Patrol officers spend much of their time responding to late night and early morning domestic violence calls involving alcohol, drugs, abusive men and battered women. Constant exposure to this underbelly of American culture is one of the drawbacks of police work.

     On January 15, 2012, at 7:40 in the evening, police officers in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, a suburban community outside of Philadelphia, were summoned to a domestic disturbance at an unusual place. The 911 call had originated from the maternity ward in Lower Merion's Lankenau Hospital. The victim of the assault (her name was not made public) had given birth two days earlier.

     Richard Lavon Davis Jr. while visiting his girlfriend and the mother of his child became agitated when he and the new mother couldn't agree on the baby's name. Davis, who had been holding the infant, laid it in its crib when the argument heated up. After screaming and cursing, Davis lost complete control of himself. The enraged father kicked a rolling table toward the chair where the mother sat. When she rose to her feet Davis punched her twice in the face knocking her onto the hospital bed. 

     The day after the maternity ward attack Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Wallis Brooks charged the 23-year-old father with simple assault, a crime that carried a maximum sentence of five years.

     A year later Davis pleaded guilty to punching the new mother in the maternity ward. On February 15, 2013, Montgomery County Judge Joseph Smyth sentenced him to eight to twenty-three months in the county jail. The sentence included 96 hours of community service and mandatory domestic violence counseling.

     In speaking to the press following the sentencing hearing prosecutor Brooks said, "He assaulted a new mother and his conduct was outrageous. It's absurd that an argument over the name of the child would lead to this kind of physical violence against a defenseless woman who is just recovering from one of nature's most beautiful experiences, the birthing of a child."

     The convicted man's attorney, Gregory Nestor, told reporters that his client was "Quite remorseful about what he did." The lawyer, in speaking highly of his client, said, "That by coming into court and pleading guilty and accepting the sentence...indicates his acceptance of responsibility for his actions."

    The sentence in this case was an insult to criminal justice. If Davis was capable of hitting the mother of his 2-day-old baby what else was he capable of? 

1 comment:

  1. Anger is fire, if not tamed, consumes everything in its path.