(CBS) — Paulette Savage was attacked by her former boyfriend in front of their 10-year-old daughter, and the legal system failed her, twice.
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports that the mother was left in the dark – and she is far from the only one.
Paulette Savage said she had a misconception about victims of domestic violence.
She said, “The people who did not get help from the system were the people who didn’t cooperate,” was what she thought.
But then, Savage became a victim of domestic violence in January.
“That’s when he pushed me, started attacking me, pushed me on the ground, wouldn’t let me get to the door, kept trying to force my daughter into the car,” she said.
Savage slammed her head on a parked car when the father of her 10-year-old daughter threw her to the ground during an unscheduled visitation.
She called police, went to the hospital, documented her injuries, and filed for an order of protection. And when her ex, Gowon Snyder, was charged with domestic battery, she made it her mission to attend every single hearing.
Snyder violated that order of protection in March, just two months later.
But when it came time for sentencing, he was able to plead down to reckless conduct and was sentenced to 12 months of supervision and anger management classes.
“I was told if he had done anything within these 12 months, if not jail, the judge would definitely be unhappy and I would get it solved,” Savage said.
Weeks later, Snyder missed his child support payment and was found in contempt in Domestic Relations Court. But when Savage called to make sure the prosecutors were aware, she said she got the shock of her life.
“They released him without notifying me,” she said.
Snyder’s supervision was canceled just 11 weeks in.
“I don’t know how this system failed me and my daughter,” Savage said. “I’m still unclear.”
Legal experts tell the CBS 2 Investigators that while they involve the same people in the same county, the criminal case and the civil child support case in aren’t connected legally and would not have triggered an additional review by the judge.
They don’t even show up in the same computer system.
“Who would know better about whether or not a person is complying with their terms of supervision that the person he tried to harm or the person he did harm?” said Amanda Pyron, Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.
Pyron says the system is deeply flawed. The Illinois Crime Victims and Witnesses Act gives victims of violent crimes the right to be notified of the setting of conditions of release of their attacker.
Even though misdemeanors resulting in bodily harm are included in the law, Pyron says there isn’t always follow through.
“The system doesn’t protect victims the way it should, and in this case specifically, they failed her on multiple levels,” Pyron said. “They didn’t inform her about what she needed to do to protect herself.”
Pyron says it’s a common theme – domestic battery charges reduced to misdemeanors. How often does it happen? We don’t know, because the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office says right now, they don’t have a way of tracking it.
“I cooperated. I went through the system. I did everything I was supposed to do,” Pyron said.
Meanwhile, Savage says that to this day, her ex continues to harass her with texts and calls. And her only recourse is to file another police report, now that he’s off supervision.
“It’s definitely a loophole,” Pyron said. “It’s how people end up attacked. It’s how people end up killed.”
On Thursday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said they assist victims in felony cases in signing up for an Automated Victim Notification program. But it’s not available for misdemeanor cases.