A cautionary tale about the legal system and how it can’t always protect victims of violent crime.
We dive into one family’s difficult experience and what you should do if it happens to you.
“I want them to remember that I tried to get them justice.”
This man, who we’ll refer t as John Doe to protect his family’s privacy, says the justice system has let him down.
“You don’t necessarily feel like you’re seeking justice,” he said. “You feel like you’re fighting against everyone and everybody.”
John Doe has struggled with a Paulding County judge’s decision to set bail low for a man accused of raping and molesting members of Doe’s family. He was allowed to bail out, and when he did, police say he offended again.
“You definitely feel re-victimized,” John Doe said.
John Doe’s case is not unique. A CBS46 investigation shows case after case of low bonds throughout Georgia.
Staying in Paulding County:
Adrienne Satterly bonded out in the same month as the man accused in the Doe case for less than $15,000. Her charges? Fourteen cases of first-degree arson.
Last year Jonathan Bates beat his wife to death. He was on probation at the time. A judge dropped the murder charges against him.
Despite the optics, experts say low bonds are often proper and within a judge’s discretion. The Eighth Amendment ensures a person cannot be held in custody with excessive bail.
“Bonds are guaranteed by the United States Constitution, and that’s one thing sometimes victims don’t understand,” said Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia Executive Director Peter Skandalakis. “There’s no average. It all depends upon the judge, what the judge feels is appropriate.”
So what can victims do when a situation like this arises? We checked; attorneys can ask the judge to reconsider bail, but bond is ultimately based on a judge’s discretion.
Victims also have the right to hire private security or sue the suspect civilly and hope that will keep them away.
And as for John Doe, he and his attorney’s went back to the judge for a bond revocation hearing after the alleged child rapist broke his bond agreement.
However, once again, the judge let him go, this time on a warning.
Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan declined to speak on camera, but he told us his office sometimes agrees and disagrees with Judge Beaver’s bond settings, and his office appeals when they can.
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