Collins admonished the woman, the AP reported, and ultimately gave her a three-day jail sentence — a decision that left some with questions about how she was treated.
“I can’t blame the state for wanting to get a bad guy, but you cannot lean on a victim of domestic violence to solve the societal issues in our world,” Jeanne Gold, chief executive officer of the domestic-violence-prevention group SafeHouse, told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s so unfair, and it just shows that there is a lot more education needed.”
The woman told police in April that the man she was expected to testify against “choked her, pressed his thumbs against her eyes and came at her with a knife,” according to the Sentinel.
Case notes indicated that she kept in touch with officials before the trial but became apprehensive as it grew closer, the newspaper reported.
In the video of her exchange with the judge, the woman can be heard struggling to express what happened and why she missed the court appearance.
“We were trying to separate, and it’s like, just, it’s just, things were, I don’t know,” she said. “I just — things were —”
“Why didn’t you show up to court?” Collins said, interrupting her.
“I’m just, my anxiety, and I’m just —” the woman responded.
“You think you’re going to have anxiety now?” Collins said, again cutting in. “You haven’t even seen anxiety.”
A jury had been assembled, Collins said. And a court order required her to be there, which the woman had disobeyed.
Were the allegations she made true, Collins asked the woman repeatedly.
“Then why wouldn’t you come to testify?” she said.
The woman explained that she had asked that the charges be dropped. Her voice was shaking as she told the judge that she was trying to move on with her life.
“Anxiety about the order did not do anything for you. I hereby find you in contempt of court. I sentence you to three days in the county jail,” the judge said, before asking her to turn around for deputies.
The woman broke down and pleaded with Collins, saying that she has a young son, who she’s trying to care for by herself.
“I’m begging you, please, please,” she said.
“I have already issued my order,” Collins responded.
The AP reported that the man whom the woman was expected to testify against agreed to a plea deal that included a stint in jail.
Collins could not be reached for comment. A court spokeswoman told the Sentinel that she could not discuss the matter, because an appeal for the case could be filed.