By Ann Pierret
GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) – “We have a domestic violence problem in Genesee County. We have way too much of it. We have way too many men beating on women. It’s a violent, heinous crime,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said.
Flint Township Police arrested Jason Maddox in May on charges of domestic violence and felonious assault.
Leyton explained the 40-year-old he and his girlfriend got into an argument at their home, leading to Maddox punching and biting the woman, hitting her with the handle of a knife and threatening to kill her and her children.
The woman’s 11-year-old son ended up climbing out of a window to get help.
“The victim, because she was so traumatized, decided that she was gonna change her story that she had originally told at the probable cause hearing in district court, where she told what we believed to be the truth,” Leyton said. “In circuit court, she told a different story about how it wasn’t this man who abused her, it was some other event that caused her to have the injuries she had.”
But Leyton said, his Office knew the truth and could still hold Maddox accountable without the victim’s testimony.
They called an ex-girlfriend, who had also been a victim, to the stand, along with expert Ann Kita, Director of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services with the YWCA.
“It’s very critical that there’s an emphasis to keep moving forward and holding that batter accountable for his actions; because, it’s very common for a victim to retract, change their story based upon prior experiences that they’re fearful of, they’re ashamed,” Kita explained.
Leyton said Kita’s expert testimony on domestic violence helped the jury convict Maddox. He’s now facing 15 years in prison.
“My biggest fear is if you don’t proceed and if you fold your hand and don’t try to prosecute and convict the abuser, the abuser will abuse again and often worse,” Leyton said. “So, if you have somebody that was beaten up in the first place, the next time around they could be murdered.”
Kita adds that one way the community can help victims of domestic violence is simply believe them. She said that alone will encourage them to speak up and get help.
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By Ann Pierret