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9 Investigates: False domestic violence claims in Mecklenburg County


“It was pure hell, to be honest with you,” Derios said of the four months in which he was arrested 10 times -- sometimes within several days -- on warrants signed by his ex-girlfriend, despite his contention that he never assaulted or threatened her. Each time when he went to court, prosecutors agreed and dismissed the charges, but not before the damage was done. “I lost my job. It's hard to find work now. It's horrible,” Derios said. Finally, after he spent a total of about 30 days in jail, Derios sought a court order that would stop his ex from taking out warrants. In September, Chief District Court Judge Regan Miller granted the order against Lechez Little on the grounds that she had misused the warrant process.

“We're trying to make the system fair,” Miller told Eyewitness News. He oversees a list, called the “No Issue” list, of men and women who have misused the warrant process designed to keep victims of domestic violence safe from their abusers.

The list has grown to include more than 200 names in the last 15 years, and since he took over as chief district court judge, Miller has personally checked court files before adding someone's name to it. “There have to be numerous frivolous complaints which require someone to come to court, maybe even lose their job,” Miller said. That’s what happened to Derios, but his ex-girlfriend still stood by her claims that he had abused her. “The bruises and stuff were actually him,” Little told Eyewitness News. She said she had not gone to court on the advice of an attorney, and that is why the charges were dismissed. “The court dismissed it because none of my evidence was shown and I wasn't even there,” Little said. She said she had not had contact with Derios since the judge put her on the “No Issue” list, and has no plans to do so in the future. “I really don't care because I'm not trying to take out a warrant,” she said. Miller and advocates who work with victims of domestic violence said the misuse of the system is very rare. “It's a very small percentage of people who come forward who are not true cases,” said Pat Kelly, a counselor at Victim Assistance in Charlotte, which sees about 125 victims of domestic violence each month.

She said that sometimes abusers will end up on the list as well because they retaliate against their victims by taking out false warrants. Her concern is that those making up claims of domestic violence might make it tougher for real victims to be believed. “We definitely hope that would not make us any less cognizant of the tremendous problem that domestic violence is,” Kelly said. For Derios, the damage is done. He has lost his job and is having trouble finding another. “Even though I have a letter from my lawyer saying these were false charges and everything like that, the attitude of the employers is that 'Where there's smoke there's fire', so basically I'm still kind of guilty,” Derios said.

Read the rest of the story and VIDEO here:

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