Judge Robert C. Wilcox Assault Ruling Raises Eyebrows

The Maryland Daily Record reports that Anne Arundel County District Court Judge Robert C. Wilcox apologized on Friday for saying earlier this month that he did not trust the victim in an assault case because she had sex with the defendant 10 days after the accident.

There must be a part of this story that is missing. Isn’t it relevant if you sleep you’re your attacker 10 days after you claim they assaulted you? I’m not saying it would necessarily mandate a defense verdict in every case. It depends on all the facts. We know that some victims of domestic violence return to their abusers many times before leaving them for good. Here, what if Judge Wilcox made the right call, and this behavior was a deciding factor in his ruling?

I hate the overuse of the phrase “politically correct” which is never used in a way that is meant to be complimentary. I believe more often than not being politically correct requires us to be a little extra sensitive to each other. This can’t be a bad thing. But if Judge Wilcox cannot give an honest ruling based on the facts and instead has to use code words to describe how he found as he did, transparent administration of justice will lose a step.

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Since writing this post, I found an article on Hometown Annapolis that provides more details. Apparently, prosecutors alleged the Defendant, and the alleged victim who had been living together had an argument at the home where the Defendant allegedly assaulted his girlfriend on February 3, 2008. She reported the alleged assault to the Anne Arundel County police and sought and received a protective order. Four days after receiving the protective order, she visited him in his hotel room and had sex with him.

In finding for the Defendant, Judge Wilcox, who sits in Glen Burnie and Annapolis, said, “It seems to me if I’m afraid of someone, I don’t go sleep with them. I stay away from them… It isn’t different. It will never be different [from bystander assaults]. And I resent people when they say, ‘But you don’t understand domestic law, your honor.’ I understand that. I understand that when human beings are afraid, they act afraid.”

I understand that some women stay in abusive situations and that does not make the abuser’s conduct any less illegal. But this woman sought this guy out in a hotel room. That does not sound like “I’m trapped and I can’t get out” or something else? Does this fact alone require a defense verdict? Of course not. But could it be an important factor to consider when deciding whether someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

The only thing I would change from my original post now that I see the quote is that I disagree with Judge Wilcox when he says that there is not a difference between domestic assaults and other assaults. I think there is a difference and I think there is far less of a loss of credibility from friendly interaction between the abuser and the victim in a domestic abuse case for all the obvious reasons.

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