DV Charges Dropped Against Grandmother, 73

The background of this case is a bit murky. It seems that 18-year-old Felicia Collier has lived much of her life with her aunt in Massachusetts. Where her father and mother have been all that time, I don’t know. But it seems she has an unfortunate tendency to use the F word to her elders, and that got her booted out of the Catholic school she was attending.

So she went to Florida to live with her grandparents, Walt and Theresa Collier. Their intention was to try to impress on the teenager that she was screwing up her life and that she’d better straighten up. Somehow, Felicia took that amiss and (what else?) went off on an F word-laced rant at her grandmother. Grandma, being a bit old school, slapped her across the face which prompted sweet miss Felicia to slug her in the face.

Somehow, the police were called on a DV report and arrested Theresa Collier, who is 73. She spent 24 hours in the local slammer. Felicia went to court the next day to plead for her grandmother’s release, but we all know what that accomplishes – nothing. When it comes to DV, the police have a mandatory arrest policy and the DA turns a deaf ear to victims who say they don’t want the person prosecuted. It’s standard practice and straight out of the Catherine MacKinnon handbook. I’m only surprised they didn’t automatically issue a temporary restraining order against Theresa. That would have left Felicia in full possession of her grandmother’s house. I wonder what she’d have learned from that.

But the case garnered such media attention that the DA’s office has crawled back into a dark place. Charges against Theresa have been dropped. A local shock jock apparently managed to get both Theresa and Felicia on his call-in show and asked Felicia to apologize, which, amazingly, she didn’t do. Read about it here (St. Petersburg Times, 5/5/10).

It’s interesting to compare this case to any of countless others we’ve seen over the years. For example, how is it that the charges came to be dropped?

Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said that after reviewing the report, his office realized that there was no prosecutable case against Collier.

Nonsense. DA’s offices prosecute cases all the time in which the only evidence is the say-so of the complaining witness who then retracts her statement. The police can testify about what they witnessed and what was said, and thereby make the case for the state.

Why was no restraining order issued against the grandmother? Those are usually automatic in DV cases, so why not in this one?

Those are some good questions, and it’s a safe bet that three things answer all of them – the age and sex of the “perpetrator,” and the hostile media reaction that met the charges. My guess is that if, instead of being hit by Grandma, Felicia had been hit by Dad, there would be little-to-no media scrutiny and no dropped charges.

But since the case went down the way it did, the public could see right away the outrageous extent to which DV laws can harm our families. That would have meant a public outcry and the police and DA didn’t want that. So this case vanished into the ether.

For law enforcement, it’s the best result. That way no one will be looking over their shoulders; no one will demand changes. And no one will cry “foul” the next time a man is arrested, prosecuted, restrained and convicted, all with “no prosecutable case” against him.

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