Philadelphia Judge Stands Tough Against Domestic Violence
A Philadelphia judge took a stand against domestic violence recently when he sentenced a man to 11-22 years in prison for the all too common crime of assaulting his wife. Common Pleas Court Judge Rayford Means gave Darryl Blackwell the maximum possible sentence for 12 misdemeanors by stacking the penalties for each charge back to back. Typically, misdemeanors such as those of which Blackwell was found guilty garner sentences of no longer than two years. "I think that finally somebody was able to see the big picture," Assistant District Attorney Gina Smith told the Philadelphia Tribune. "If you looked at the entire evolution of this, it represented a very scary situation."
Blackwell began assaulting his wife, Ari Cohen-Blackwell just two months after their wedding. Blackwell allegedly beat Cohen-Blackwell on several occasions - at one point she was admitted to the hospital for compressed vertebrae in her back and swelling on her head - and raped her twice. He also threatened her family and threatened her own life – he even left a body bag in her car. Although arrested several times and given court orders prohibiting him from contacting Cohen-Blackwell, Blackwell repeatedly posted bail and violated the court orders. Finally, after holding Cohen-Blackwell hostage and raping her – Blackwell was arrested and charged with rape and 13 other charges from four prior incidents. This time, Means ordered Blackwell be held on a $50,000 bail. A jury then found Blackwell guilty of the assault charges and not guilty of the rape charges.
Domestic violence and intimate partner violence remain an epidemic in the United States. According to a Department of Justice study released in October 2001, close to one-third of women in the US who are murdered each year are killed by their current or former partners, usually a husband. Approximately 1 million women annually report being stalked. In 1999, more than 85 percent of the 800,000 reports of intimate partner violence were committed against women.