Published on 11/20/2012. Changed privacy setting back to public on 4/5/2012 after my public live video share to my Facebook page (link to follow) about SABA North America allowing my ex to run for their board. More receipts to be shared, and I am in complete awe that I had the ability to write this – actually, do ANY of what I did – while living through what felt like a Lifetime horror movie and while experiencing PTSD & depression (which I did not cognitively perceive until my flurry of naive justice-seeking activity stopped) as I was just in non-stop “fight/flight” survival mode until then.
The below is to provide context to my OPEN LETTER TO JUDGE BALL-REED (scroll to Nov. 20), because my story is important for 2 reasons: 1) Without it, it would be difficult to fully understand just how wrong Judge Patrice Ball-Reed got it (click here to see her ruling) and 2) to open up the public’s eyes to how this broken system further victimizes victims and why domestic violence as an issue is not taken as seriously as it should.
Before getting into my story though, I will describe a scene in court that I will never forget.
On October 16th, right before I testified, a young woman (the “Petitioner”) – sans lawyer – told her story about how her ex of a 10-year tumultuous on and off relationship would not leave her alone, spoke to her personal phone records (they were not subpoenaed and no one from the phone company was there to verify their authenticity as was required in my case) to prove the number of times he called, recounted that he had once climbed her balcony and cut her screen window to get access to her, submitted nothing officially as evidence, and explicitly said that there was NO physical violence. Within 45 minutes and after spending ZERO dollars, she was granted a 6-month order of protection by Judge Ball-Reed.
Now as for my story, it was not so simple. First and foremost, you need to know that I am South Asian. That’s important because in my community, we are so conservative that we do not speak of dating relationships pre-marriage and pretend that the first person we ever dated was the person we end up marrying. When it comes to anything we do, we must always consider the consequences of “shame” that we will bring to ourselves, our family and our community, and a daughter’s duty is to protect her family. In my many times in court, I have NEVER seen another South Asian woman, so although the prevalence of domestic violence is far higher in our patriarchal community, that should speak to how big of a deal it is for a South Asian woman to file something like an order of protection, and I wonder what cultural sensitivity training – if any – domestic violence court judges receive because – although she mentioned my culture at one point – Judge Ball-Reed obviously had no understanding of what it meant for a South Asian woman to file an order of protection.
Although my story is long and convoluted, the Cliff Notes (but still terribly long) version is that I dated a prominent South Asian attorney for 3 months, and the relationship ended in me filing an emergency order of protection against him. I “alleged” (& I emphasize that, because I understand that now because a judge has deemed I don’t need protection, my integrity is being questioned and her ruling is supposed to negate my identifying as a DV victim/survivor) that on the night of Mar 2, after receiving countless threatening texts (submitted into evidence, read out loud in my testimony & that included language like “blow up in your face” and “good luck with your employer, your family…”) from him, I met up with him to pacify him and end the relationship amicably (we are from the same community of friends and I did not want him to act on any of his threats). I had such a bad feeling about meeting up with him that I took pictures of the threatening text messages and e-mailed them to myself, but I regrettably still went.
(Disclaimer: If what you find most interesting out of the below texts is the Department of Health/TB, please know that I tested positive for the TB marker as 1/3rd of the world’s population does. I was never put on quarantine by the Department of Health nor did they even bother to complete their full testing. TB is an airborne disease and not one indicative of my character, and no one who spent extensive time with me tested positive. That being said, as most people are with their health regardless of the diagnosis, I did not want to broadcast my having tested positive. He knew that and then as you will see below used it to scare me into finally meeting him up on the night of March 2nd when he threatened to “make a big deal” in my building if I did not come down)
I told the judge at length that my ex sent me these texts because he was upset that I had moved my flight to go home from March 6th to the next day, March 3rd.
I then “alleged” that for the approximately next 9 hours, he held me hostage in his apartment (or as my lawyer called it by its technical term, “kidnapped” me), violently assaulted me, suffocated me with a body pillow (I was 3 weeks post-lung surgery and 2 days post fainting in my doctor’s office to which he was present for and which the judge heard about countless times), forced me to cancel my flight home for later that day, and in the morning, would not allow me to use the bathroom, because I still had my phone shoved in tright-handand pocket of my winter jacket (which I had been wearing since the minute I tried to leave the apartment). When I went to squat on the floor and told him I would pee on his floor, he allowed me to use the bathroom with the door open as he took pictures of me. He told me that he would use these pictures against me and (although I am now getting ahead of myself) he actually DID use them against me on March 17 when he blackmailed me with a “Fix this or else” e-mail (for which we also proved foundation and submitted into evidence). On Mar 19, *someone* sent these same pictures to my father’s work e-mail address from an e-mail address we do not know.
What I “alleged” between the time at his apartment and Mar 20, the day I flew back to Chicago with my brother to file an emergency order of protection and police report is a long story – full of countless poor decisions on my part (made in fear of him acting on the threats he had made and fear of what taking any action against him would mean for me and my family, but what I can say for sure is this:
I swore under oath that on March 3rd, I went up to the then manager of Eleaven, Andrew Davenport, to tell him that I was afraid for my safety and to watch me. I gave him my name and my phone number, and as I said in court, he was not there to testify because he no longer works at Eleaven and the owner there would not give me his information.
Furthermore, considering that MOST physical incidents of domestic violence happen behind closed doors without witnesses, I understand that I cannot prove that every part of my story is true, but I do have PLENTY OF PROOF THAT A PHYSICAL INCIDENT OCCURRED including texts from him acknowledging the scar on my face, giving my jacket in to the tailor to be fixed (I alleged that he ripped the pocket off trying to get my phone from me), the story that he came up with about a cat scratching my face, and even pictures of HIS “injuries” that he sent to me on Mar 12 to demonstrate that he wasn’t the “only one that got hurt.” One can deduce from the documentation (or just using common sense considering my physical health post-surgery) who started the physical incident and the likelihood that I assaulted him (as his Assistant US Attorney bestie alleged that I told him but interestingly enough, my ex said that there was no physical incident).
I also spoke at length to why I continued communicating with my ex (fear of his acting on his threats to wreck havoc with my family, employer, department of health, use the toilet picture against me) and that while I was home in MD from Mar 3 through Mar 13, a greater part of our conversation was contentious because he wanted me to celebrate his birthday as his girlfriend which I would not agree to.
Other texts while I was home in Maryland:
I can also prove that on March 14, when I finally cut off all communication with him (after he told me that he was coming to MD to see me), that he called my mom, e-mailed my dad the same message to his Facebook account as well as 2 different e-mail addresses with pictures of the two of us to prove we were in a relationship and other various false allegations. That day, he also texted me the below:
I can tell you that on March 15, I received a call from my brother, but it wasn’t my brother; it was my ex using third party dialing to call me. (I have an incoming call on my phone record from my brother, but no outgoing call is on his record). I can tell you that my brother and sister in-law reached out to their friend who works for the FBI, who connected us to a Chicago CPD officer, who advised us that based on what I alleged that I should file an order of protection. I can also tell you that it was on this day that my brother took pictures of my face and hands which showed injuries – although well on their way to healing – that were also submitted to Judge Ball-Reed.
Then, as I mentioned earlier, on Mar 17, I received an explicit blackmail e-mail with 4 pictures (none of which were naked pictures but in my culturally conservative community, I would never post of myself and one picture was of me on his toilet from the morning of Mar 3). He told me that if I was worried about my parents losing sleep over decent pictures to wait until they saw these indecent pictures. He told me to “fix this or else.” THAT e-mail was read out loud, mentioned multiple times, proven foundation for and SUBMITTED TO THE JUDGE.
On Mar 19, I received the below texts from a phone # I do not recognize stating:
I was not allowed to speak to these messages, because not only was I not allowed to speak to my OWN phone record, but I could not speak to subpoenaed phone records which showed this # as being someone he knew, because they were “business documents” (per my ex’s CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY), and I would need a representative from the business to verify the authenticity of this #. Again, Judge Ball-Reed held my case to a standard that no DV victim I have seen pass through her court has been held to.
Later on Mar 19, as I had mentioned, a “Joanne Conners,” someone that no one in my family knows, emailed my father at his work e-mail address the SAME EXACT PICTURES WITH THE SAME EXACT TITLES AND SAME EXACT EXIF DATA (digital stamps) that included TWO pictures taken in HIS BATHROOM including the TOILET PICTURE. However in spite of being able to logically deduce that it was my ex who sent the e-mail, neither my father nor I were allowed to speak to this because we couldn’t prove “foundation” for Joanne Conner’s e-mail address. The e-mail sickly talked about how the individual knew that my dad doesn’t share anything with my mom but that these pictures would be getting to her and it may be “too big of a shock.”
Finally, on Mar 20th, my brother who is a medical director for an emergency medicine practice rearranged his work schedule to fly with me to Chicago because my entire family was fearful that my ex would be waiting for me at the airport. When we filed my emergency order of protection (which was granted on the e-mail that was submitted to Judge Ball-Reed for evidence), a court clerk told me that my ex had ANOTHER 2-year plenary OOP from another woman from just a little over a year ago. When I pulled the case, other than the physical incident, I could not believe that another South Asian woman went through almost exactly what I went through but over the course of 3 months. Unfortunately, although my first lawyer tried to submit this case through a “Motion to Limine,” he was unsuccessful because he could only find criminal case law to back up why the case should be submitted and this was a civil case. God forbid we “prejudice” and prevent a “fair trial” for multiple-time offenders by being able to submit their previous offenses with the same exact M.O.
So that’s my story, but what happened in court on October 30th is why I wrote to Judge Ball-Reed. At least 4 people can attest to the following: she made credibility and character assessments even though she could not see the faces of 2 (of my 3) witnesses due to 2 large monitors blocking her view, slept for a good part of the court proceedings, very clearly had never read my 6 page affidavit submitted months ago outlining the series of events (if she had, there would be no way she would not have granted me an OOP), held my case to a standard that I have never seen any other case in her court as if I had to prove beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt (as this was a criminal case which it should have been) rather than meet the preponderance of evidence, and COMPLETELY IGNORED evidence – specifically threatening text messages and an explicit blackmail e-mail – when making her decision.
That wasn’t the worst part though. The worst part was her reasoning for her ruling. It was as if over the course of 7 months, she completely missed everything and ONLY heard his lawyer’s closing where he called me a joke, an insult to actual DV victims and very strongly essentially said to you that the DV court is known for giving out OOPs like “candy.” His side claimed that my parents forced me to get an OOP out of fear that my reputation would be ruined in the community due to testing positive for the TB marker. Although Judge Ball-Reed allowed my ex’s BFF testify to my health and not my brother who is a physician, I am not sure if she knows that if I had ever tested positive for active TB, I would not have been in court to file my emergency OOP on March 20th. Furthermore, as stated many times in court, I was never put in isolation by DOH or my doctors, and I am stating this here publicly so Judge Ball-Reed (& everyone else my ex has told this story to) can rest assured that that was NOT the reason I filed my OOP and I have no fear of whether EVERYONE in my community knows that I tested positive for the TB Marker. I also assure you that – as we proved in court – that although my ex swore under oath that the first time he knew about my TB diagnosis was March 13, per the e-mails we spoke to from February, he knew about my TB long beforehand.
What was most offensive though was when she essentially called me a liar because if her “BFF” had told her to get out of a relationship, she would have, AND that during the “alleged” physical incident how I acted was not plausible to her. She poked fun at how I could just lay there for hours as he slept and not try to move or call the police, even though in my testimony I explained why I couldn’t and didn’t. She must have missed the part where I said that every time I tried to scream or access my phone from my pocket that he would attack/suffocate me; even the dumbest dog quickly learns to stop running into an electric fence. She also did not take my health into consideration. Per Judge Ball-Reed, 3 weeks pos LUNG surgery, 2 days post fainting in my surgeon’s office (with my ex present), and at 5’4″ and 118 lbs, I should have been able to successfully fight off my 6’ athlete ex. Again, it was as if I was her first DV case ever and she had no idea how this works… it takes a woman an average of 7 times of trying to leave before she actually leaves an abusive relationship, the MAJORITY of women do NOT call the police after the first major physical incident and many women continue relationships with abusive men because they are either fearful of the consequences of ending the relationship (as I was) or they are manipulated into returning
What was most unbelievable is that in her 30 minutes she took to “deliberate,” she very clearly did not look at my evidence, BUT managed to read a completely random e-mail his side had submitted in search of ONE line (that was never read out loud in court) to use against me. Out of the entire e-mail which I wrote to STOP abusive behavior from my ex, she picked out one line where I stated that I was not the type of woman to tolerate being treated the way my ex was treating me and determined that I was a strong woman, and as such, simply did not want to be a victim to anyone (Judge Ball-Reed, what kind of women do you know who want to be victims…?). These aren’t exact quotes, but I have 4 other sets of ears who have corroborated that what my ears were hearing was real and that I was not in the Twilight Zone, and I have pulled all the court reporter notes for this date.
The almost laughable thing was that she said you made your judgment based on credibility assessments, which I am so curious to know how that worked…. Was it knowing that he had ANOTHER 2-year OOP against him from just a year ago that SHE WAS THE JUDGE FOR that made him more credible or was it that – in spite of Judge Ball-Reed’s attempt to place a gag order on the both of us (b/c for some reason, she cared that this was a “community issue”) – that she found me to be less credible because things had become public in our community through someone OTHER than me?? (Sorry Judge Ball-Reed, but that public record is a pesky thing to conceal and with 5 months having passed since I first filed, plenty of people knew about the case). Having said that, I assure you that if making things public was my only intention I would have found a more cost-effective way like say posting all the crazy texts and e-mails he sent to my Facebook page. To continue with credibility, was their side more credible because his US Attorney bestie alleged there was one physical incident where I pushed HIM (because it makes total sense that I would frantically write AJ an e-mail begging for help and then admit my guilt in initiating a physical incident), but when my ex testified, he said there was no physical incident? Or was it when he swore under oath that the first time that he learned about my TB was on Mar 13 when – in court – we proved right then and there that the first time was in mid-February? Or was it that my conservative father flew in to be able to testify to the number of times he was contacted by my ex and that HIS own client (who was a subpoenaed witness) testified against him verifying MY story??
The entire proceedings were incomprehensible. Judge Ball-Reed found his best friend/then future “Assistant US Attorney” (words his lawyer could not stop repeating) to be credible when he testified that he would never be friends with someone who commits DV or “anything like that” (his bestfriend has 2 OOPs filed against him, so I’m not quite sure that he also understands what constitutes DV), that after sending him a 2-page e-mail begging him to help get my ex to break up with me, that the next day, I called him up and told him that my parents were forcing me to file an OOP in fear of my reputation.
I am going to say it flat out, but my ex’s entire story was a lie, and I can prove countless incidents of perjury if anyone in the state’s attorney’s office or the IARDC cares to pursue a perjury case, and 2 of the biggest lies he told were 1) in regards to his 100% lie reason that my parents forced me to file an OOP out of fear for my reputation due to my ex sharing my health information and 2) that the bathroom in the bathroom pictures was not his.
I understand that I may get no resolve in my case, but I wanted Judge Ball-Reed to know that she got it completely wrong and if one day a South Asian woman commits suicide because of or is killed at the hands of my ex, that it will be on her hands. I am also writing to raise awareness about this ABSURD system, as I am one of its many victims. It makes no sense that I couldn’t just present all my evidence as every other Petitioner (45 minutes, $0 spent woman) had and instead it took SEVEN MONTHS to only have Judge Ball-Read selectively hear (their side) the last 10 minutes of the entire proceedings.
Many who have seen the documentation and court reporter notes have said that I should pursue an appeal, but I no longer have the financial resources to spend for another likely unfavorable outcome; seeing how this system works, I cannot imagine 3 of Judge Ball-Reed’s superior judges overturning her decision regardless of how blatantly clear it is that your decision was wrong. That’s why I have included the Mayor’s Office, Cook County’s Sheriff’s Department and the State Attorney’s office to respectfully ask for just ONE in-person meeting to share my story and show you my evidence. Although he walks the streets and practices law, my ex is a true criminal and the scariest kind because he is a sociopath who get away with it due to knowing how to manipulate the system. I went to press criminal charges at the 18th district CPD station with my friend 2 weeks after filing the OOP and police report, but we were told that I had done everything I needed to do and even though the police officer whom I filed the initial police report with told me that there was a 2-year statute of limitations to press criminal charges, when I went to the State Attorney’s office 2 months later, I was told that it was too late.
Although the physical evidence would not have been any different on Mar 4, 2012 vs. today, I understand that it may be too late for you to press charges, but I simply want to be able to present what I have so I can rest assured that I have taken all action possible against this 2-time offender, who, when he continues this behavior towards women – especially South Asian women – some poor woman will either commit suicide or be killed as I could have been.
If you are willing to, please review and sign this PETITION created in an effort to meet with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and Chicago Police Department 18th District Detective. You can sign anonymously by unchecking “display my signature.”
Thank you for reading and for your support.