August 11, 2006

Journal: D. A. Wilkinson delivers

This morning's Ithaca Journal editorial reflects on the promises District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson made in the last election, and how that worked out:

One week ago today in Tompkins County Court, Wilkinson's promise paid its first dividend for the residents of Tompkins County.

It was late last Friday that a jury of his peers found [Dryden resident] Karel ‚ÄúRicky‚Ä? Westerling guilty of multiple felony counts related to the armed kidnap and rape of his estranged girlfriend....

That trial offered many of the traps that can derail domestic violence and rape cases. The victim, who at first submitted a statement against her attacker, weeks later recanted after several conversations with Westerling. On the stand, she said Assistant District Attorney Linda Gafford urged her to tell the truth, so she returned to her original statement and testified against her ex-boyfriend.... The DA's office rose to its job as well, weaving a clear image of Westerling as an abuser and making sure jurors understood the fear and pressures that can make victims switch stories.

By prosecuting this case aggressively, and delivering multiple felony convictions, Wilkinson and her staff have sent two vital messages. To potential perpetrators, that they will face dogged prosecution. To future victims, that the criminal justice system can punish and protect, and can be worth the faith it demands we all place in it.

There's no report on last night's Town Board meeting. None of their reporters were there, so I guess that's not surprising. Community centers were a key issue, with the board divided and uncertain about what they'd meant to be doing when they committed $25,000 to the budget for community centers last fall.

Posted by simon at August 11, 2006 8:29 AM in ,
Note on photos