San Diego

Domestic Violence Advocate: City Attorney's Mishandling of Cases Hurts Victims

NBC 7 spoke to a local psychologist ad advocate who is “horrified”

In November 2015, the City Attorney’s Office conducted an audit and found 98 criminal cases were mishandled.

Nineteen of the 98 cases had expired under the statute of limitations. The majority of those were domestic violence cases.

Because of what happened in the City Attorney's office, some people accused in those domestic violence cases will never be prosecuted.

The missed cases spread from 2012 through 2015.

In an internal memo sent to staff Wednesday, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith wrote that the City Attorney's office “investigated to determine whether the suspects had any pending or new cases against them” and said none did.

That's not much consolation for Carmel Valley Psychologist Sage Breslin, who works with victims of domestic violence.

She said she was "horrified" after hearing of the City Attorneys mishandling of the cases.

“I am horrified because I am an advocate for these kind of victims,” she told NBC 7 San Diego. “To know how much courage and effort it takes for men and women to come forward when they have been victimized in their homes or in their relationship, to know they bet the farm on it and suddenly there is nothing else they can do? Now it’s never going to be prosecuted? Are you serious? So know they are out there more exposed than ever and they don’t have the law on their side anymore, ready to scoop them up or make sure they are safe?”

Breslin hopes this incident will help change the system.

“I am hoping some sort of precedent can be made so that at least the rules and laws around these timeline be changed or amended in some way," she said. "So that they can at least be afforded the right to prosecute these cases.”

She would encourage the victims in these cases to come forward.

“I think it’s time to have a voice," she said. "I don’t think it’s ok for these particular people to have entrusted the system with their lives and only to be told someone else’s mistake has made it so they can’t prosecute their cases.”

Late Thursday afternoon, Jan Goldsmith released this statement to NBC7 Investigates:

“When we found the files, we were able to save some cases shortly before the statute of limitations expired and those cases were filed. We could not save 19. Our office helps thousands of domestic violence victims each year, but we let these victims down. We contacted each one and offered to meet with them and provide help, including services. We want victims to know that we are there for them notwithstanding what happened in these cases, and we have taken every step possible to ensure it does not happen again.”

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