Domestic violence has emerged as an issue in the Nassau County district attorney's race, with Republican Kate Murray attacking Democrat Madeline Singas' handling of a domestic-violence case, and Singas calling the criticism "reckless."
On Wednesday, the Murray campaign released a 30-second television ad focusing on the case of Jacqueline Biggio of Syosset, who in 2006 accused her then-husband, Lawrence Biggio, of threatening her life.
The district attorney's office and Lawrence Biggio's defense attorney attempted to get a judge to dismiss the case, saying Jacqueline Biggio, a former New York State Assembly candidate, was attempting to manipulate the courts in order to win her divorce case.
District Court Judge Norman St. George initially denied their request and ordered the case to trial, saying that "neither the defendant nor the people have established any credible reason why this case should not proceed."
Singas, who is acting district attorney, headed the district attorney's special victims unit at the time. She was quoted in an April 2006 Newsday article as saying that prosecutors did not want to move forward with the case because Jacqueline Biggio had been found not believable by prosecutors and in the civil courts. Singas said the threat that Lawrence Biggio made against his wife was provoked, and noted that Jacqueline Biggio waited two months to report it to police, even though she had reported other perceived threats to the police immediately.
A month later, St. George dismissed misdemeanor harassment charges against Lawrence Biggio, saying a prosecutor had given improper legal instructions to the grand jury that handled the case against Biggio.
Using the newspaper article as a backdrop, a narrator in Murray's ad says Singas "refused a judge's order to prosecute an accused abuser -- more shocking, Singas blamed the victim, saying she provoked her husband."
Singas, speaking after an event aimed at raising awareness of the county's domestic-violence hotline, Thursday called the ad "reckless and baseless," and said it could deter some domestic-violence victims from seeking help from authorities.
Singas said, "Someone was accused of a crime, we had evidence that crime was not committed in the way . . . that the woman had alleged that it happened. As our ethical duty as prosecutors, I dismissed the case against that man. . . . For Kate Murray to politicize that and to somehow spin the facts into [claiming that] I allowed an abuser to get away with something is absolutely manipulative, reckless and really despicable."
Murray, the Hempstead Town supervisor, stood by the ad. "If she doesn't like the commercial, maybe she is regretting her own words, and her own actions," Murray said in an interview.
Both candidates have touted their domestic violence experience on the campaign trail.Singas says that in 2000, she helped form the Queens District Attorney's Office Special Victims Unit, and that in 2006 former Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice hired her to form Nassau's Special Victims Unit.Murray served as a victim advocate while in law school in 1988 as part of the /Suffolk University Battered Women's Advocacy Project.