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Alleged domestic violence victim detained, brought to court, her lawyer says

A Baldwin woman allegedly assaulted by her boyfriend was detained and brought to court Wednesday, her lawyer said, after prosecutors claimed in court papers that she refused to cooperate in the case.

Nassau prosecutors sought an order declaring the woman a material witness in the case against Scott Ford, 46, also of Baldwin, court records show.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice William O'Brien told the woman that such an order, which a court spokesman said remains pending, would let him set bail and potentially have her jailed until Ford's trial.

Her attorney Eugene McElroy told O'Brien his client was "a victim of the district attorney's propensity to overreact." However, the judge released the 35-year-old on her own recognizance after McElroy said she would come to court for Ford's upcoming trial.

"I don't think the people are off base in seeking to go forward with the charges and allow a jury to decide whether or not it happened," O'Brien told McElroy.

"It is not about attempting to victimize your client," O'Brien said.

Ford faces felony charges after his May 2014 arrest, including strangulation and assault. The woman told police she had a protection order against Ford when he bit her, choked her, and slammed her head before she blacked out.

"As the judge noted, this is a proper use of a material witness order, and we will use every tool at our disposal to keep victims safe," said Shams Tarek, a district attorney's office spokesman.

But Ford's attorney, William Shanahan, accused prosecutors of coercion. "It's ironic that the alleged victim is the one that is suffering at the hands of the district attorney's office, who have completely ignored the legal procedures in order to obtain a witness's presence in court," he said.

Shanahan previously filed an affidavit from the woman claiming she'd been threatened with arrest if she didn't appear before a grand jury. It claimed Assistant District Attorney Amanda Burke told her she'd be committing perjury if she didn't read a statement to the grand jury. Burke denied wrongdoing in a court filing, and a judge ruled not to dismiss the case, finding "nothing impaired the integrity" of grand jury proceedings.

Burke also wrote in court papers that the alleged victim "repeatedly refused to cooperate," and "should not be allowed to circumvent the legal process and run away to achieve it."

Ford was charged with "brutally assaulting" the same woman with a hammer and a belt in 2010 and the woman also wouldn't comply with subpoenas then, she wrote.

The case returns to court Friday.

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