The vision of a preganant teenaged mom in jail just does not sit well for most in a civilized society. Jail that teen because she would not answer a bench warrant for her to testify against her boyfriend, who she once alleged beat her, and it is a nightmare situation on many fronts.
How could our justice system jail someone who is pregnant? How could a woman who called police and gave video testimony against her boyfriend, stating he had beaten her, not choose to come to court and testify against him?
The case of Noellee Mowatt is another example of battered woman syndrome rearing its awful head as it does daily in courts across this province. If court reporters had a dime for how many times they have seen a victim recant or change their story about their aggressor, they would be rich enough to never have to lift a pen again.
Mowatt was jailed after she did not appear in court for Christopher Harbin’s (her boyfriend) March 20 trial. The justice system had summoned her many times before then and she never appeared. On Dec. 28, 2007 Mowatt had called police to report her boyfriend had assaulted her over a three-day period.
Michelle Henry, a Toronto Star crime reporter, reports the following:
In her videotaped statement Mowatt said the marks on her face and welts on her body were made when Harbin punched her and grabbed her mouth, arms and throat. The gash on her toe happened when Harbin started stabbing at her feet with a knife.
however, when Mowatt testified this week Henry reports:
Her testimony stood in stark contrast to the videotaped statement she gave police after the alleged assaults. She answered Crown Attorney Erin McNamara’s questions about what happened over three days of alleged abuse mainly by saying “No” and “I don’t remember.”
When Mowatt was shown pictures of herself, bruised and beaten, and asked how her injuries occurred, Mowatt put her head down. She said marks on her arms were bug bites, bruises on her face happened when she bashed into a wall and slept on a “hard object,” a welt on her arm was the result of falling onto the carpet and a gash on her toe came from stubbing it on a door.
Amazing how a story can sadly change this way. What level of abuse and control has this young woman endured to be driven to the point to change her story in such a way. Lastly, why in the hell would she change her story?
A slew of advocates and psychiatrists could answer that last question but here is what burns some folks- Mowatt (or her legal counsel or both) had the good judgement to use the media to help publicize her case and create pressure. Now where is that good judgement to help guide her to telling the truth?
As in so many other cases like this, what about this unborn child, what chance to a healthy life does it have? Mowatt already has brought one child into this world- who lives in her native Jamaica with Mowatt’s mother who reportedly suffers from mental illness. This unborn child is the only innocent one in this whole mess.
Hopefully Mowatt will remember to stand by her child as she stood by her man.