Offenders Skip Required Counseling In N.C. County

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Jeff Servidio headbutted his girlfriend, threw her against a metal stairwell, then shoved her down the stairs, reports the Charlotte Observer. A judge sentenced Servidio, 33, to probation and ordered him to enroll in a treatment program for domestic violence offenders. Servidio never went. On Tuesday, he was charged with murder after his girlfriend was found dead in her bathtub. This case and others highlight a breakdown in the probation system that social workers, judges, and police officers say is an increasing problem: An estimated one in four domestic violence offenders in Mecklenburg County fail to attend required court-ordered counseling. “It’s a huge problem,” said Bea Coté of the Mecklenburg County Women’s Commission’s New Options for Violent Actions program (NOVA). “The community is not holding people accountable.”

NOVA does not receive notification from probation or the court that a person has been ordered to get domestic violence counseling, Coté said. Sgt. Vicky Suarez, head of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s domestic violence unit, said probation officers handle an “awfully high” caseload, but that that’s no excuse. Probation officials say they do notify NOVA, that the study is misleading, and few offenders get away with violating judges’ orders. “We’re getting scapegoated,” said Cynthia Mitchell of the probation department. “There is no loophole. If there is a glitch, it’s probably a small administrative matter that we need to tweak.”


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