Abuse Suspects, Your Calls Are Taped. Speak Up.
By WILLIAM GLABERSON February 25, 2011
The men charged with beating, stabbing or burning their wives or girlfriends have plenty to say. Lately, their words have been used against them in New York courts as never before.
"I need you to prepare the kids to start lying," one man said to his girlfriend. He had been charged with burning her face with a hot iron as she knelt in view of their children.
Another cooed "baby" to the girlfriend he was charged with grabbing by the hair and scratching with keys. "Whatever you do," he directed, "do not speak to the D.A."
A third insisted to his brother that he was surprised at all the blood after he used a kitchen knife on the woman he had been with since they were teenagers. "I just stuck her like a little," he said.
Since last year, every prisoner telephone call at every New York City jail, except calls to doctors and lawyers, has been recorded. And prosecutors have been mining the trove in all kinds of cases - they asked for copies of the recordings 8,200 times last year, city officials said. But there is one area where the tapes are beginning to play a central role: cases of domestic violence.
The reason is simple. Once those accused in domestic violence crimes get on the jailhouse telephone, it turns out, many of them cannot seem to stop themselves from sweet-talking, confessing to, berating and threatening those on the other end of the line, more often than not the women they were charged with abusing.
The tapes overcome one of the biggest hurdles prosecutors face in such cases: that 75 percent of the time, the women who were victimized stop helping prosecutors, often after speaking to the men accused of abusing them.