It’s been seven weeks since the domestic violence problem was made public, and so far, no one has been held accountable.
After FingerLakes1.com published a report on the Geneva Believer article that detailed the failure of the Geneva Police Department to follow procedure for three 911 calls in which Ward 1 City Councilor Angelina Marino was the aggressor, Ward 5 Councilor Jason Hagerman requested on April 5th that Council ask for an investigation into the handling of three incidents.
At the time of this writing, there has been no response from Council to Hagerman’s request.
During the public comment portion of the May 3rd Geneva City Council meeting, I made a statement echoing Hagerman’s request for an investigation, but asked that the investigation be conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office. I also called for Council to ask Marino to step down from her seat on Council.
Marino’s nonverbal response to my comments, as seen in the video shot by Finger Lakes TV (below), illustrates her arrogance and lack of concern about the seriousness of the charges and subsequent fallout.
Summary Of The Story So Far
- The Geneva Police Department responded to three domestic incidents that occurred at the home of Marino and her ex-wife between January and April of 2016. Marino was the aggressor in all three instances. In New York State, law enforcement agencies responding to a domestic violence call are required to provide a copy of a completed and signed Domestic Incident Report to the victim at the scene. None of the three incident reports have been completed and signed, confirming that the GPD failed to follow the strict domestic violence procedure.
- The victim was told that after reviewing the evidence, the Ontario County District Attorney’s office would not pursue charges, which was confirmed in a statement by City Manager Matt Horn to Fingerlakes1.com.
- The victim provided Geneva Believer with an audio recording made prior to the first 911 call on January 24, 2016 . In the recording, Marino is heard both admitting to potential criminal activity and actually committing potential crimes: kicking through a door could bring charges of criminal mischief, intimidating a person who tries to call 911 could bring harassment or intimidation charges, and spitting on a person while verbally abusing them could be assault and battery.
- The next morning, on January 25, 2016, the GPD responded to a second 911 call, and reported that Marino committed a physical assault against the victim.
- On April 9, 2016, GPD responded to a third 911 call while a Refrain from Order of Protection was in place against Marino, and while Marino’s actions violated the Order of Protection, no action was taken by the GPD.
- On April 2, 2017, in response to the Geneva Believer article, Marino issued a statement on Facebook, in which she did not apologize, showed no remorse, took no personal responsibility, blamed the victim, downplayed her behavior as simply being a part of one of the “worst days of (her) life,” and claimed that this blog was “overshadowing real victims of domestic violence.”
Why Marino Must Step Down
Tenet 3 of the City’s Code of Ethics states:
“The professional and personal conduct of Public Officials must be above reproach, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”
Marino not only engaged in and admitted to criminal behavior on the audio recording, she also implied that her relationship with members of the police department would provide her protection not afforded to the victim, and challenged the victim to call the police and “see what happens to you.”
This behavior is the textbook definition of “the appearance of impropriety.” Taken in the context of the three domestic violence calls and Marino’s subsequent public statement, her behavior unquestionably is not “above reproach.”
Marino’s behavior has irreparably damaged her reputation and the public trust in city government. Her dismissive public statement about the incidents makes it clear that she does not comprehend the gravity of her actions and considers her violent, abusive behavior to be justified.
Only one City Councilor has publicly acknowledged the issue. The longer City Council ignores the problem, the more likely it is that the public will conclude that Council doesn’t care about domestic violence if it involves one of their own. By failing to respond, City Council is also giving tacit approval to the GPD’s handling of the case.
It’s time for City Council to propose and pass a resolution requesting that Councilor Marino step down from her role as Councilor.
Saying A Lot Without Saying A Word
Please watch the video below from the May 3rd City Council meeting. The entire public comment statement is included, but pay close attention to Marino’s nonverbal response, which is zoomed and enhanced around the 3:08 mark of the video.
Marino’s smirk and raised eyebrows offer a valuable window into her psyche. Keep in mind, Marino responded in this way in full view of the video camera. Even Councilor Gordon Eddington, when facing direct criticism in previous Council meetings from residents for his handling of the Foundry issue, chose to remain stone-faced and disinterested.
Marino’s confident smirk is a message to the people of Geneva: she doesn’t think she did anything wrong and believes she is immune from facing any consequences.
Naturally, considering the lack of action from City Council and the community in response to the issue, it’s not surprising that Marino respond in such a way.
Just What Are YOU Going To Do?
The original article about the Marino situation is, far and away, the most-viewed story in Geneva Believer history. After the article was posted, Marino’s victim and the Geneva Believer blog received dozens of emails, personal messages, and social media comments expressing support and a desire for justice. Prominent members of the Geneva community, along with members of the local and regional media and others, have stated privately that they are appalled by Marino’s behavior and that they find the responses of the Geneva Police and the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office to be unacceptable.
Additionally, there are several local organizations who are doing very public work in seeking justice for the LGBTQ community, justice for those who’ve been treated unfairly by law enforcement, justice for women and other marginalized communities, and justice for domestic violence victims.
But seven weeks after the story went public, there have been no letters to the editor.
There have been no advocacy groups speaking out publicly or offering their help.
There have been no protests.
There has been media silence (except for the Fingerlakes1.com article that failed to ask any followup questions, and a brief mention in a Finger Lakes Times column).
Geneva Believer readers have always been strongly encouraged to engage with city government. The purpose of this blog is to provide information, and it’s up to readers to pressure city government to make changes. I’ve been inspired when readers (and others) have made their voices heard on subjects such as the Economic Opportunity Task Force, the DRI process, lakefront development, and the Foundry debacle.
It takes a different type of commitment to speak out against the Geneva Police Department, against the Ontario County D.A., and against a sitting City Councilor who violated the law but evaded consequences due to the incidents being mishandled by authorities. You may face hostility from friends, colleagues and acquaintances. You may fear other social, professional, or political repurcussions for speaking out. It’s comparatively easy to stand up against condos on the lakefront, or against the city’s failure to protect residents from Foundry contamination. It’s understandable why so many supporters of the victim would want to offer words of encouragement, but don’t want to risk their own social standing by speaking out in a meaningful, public way.
It’s not really about Marino, the GPD and the DA. It’s about other domestic violence victims…all ages and genders…our friends, neighbors and relatives…who will call 911 today, tomorrow, or next year because they are being abused and need help. If those who are supposed to help them are unable or unwilling to provide that help, we have failed those victims. And a broken door and shattered dishware might not be the only damage done next time.
City government will not do anything in response to this issue unless the public demands it.
To the media: Stand up and cover this story. It is documented that police failed to follow domestic violence procedures during three separate 911 calls involving an elected official.
To the local advocacy organizations and to the readers: Listen to your conscience, stand up and speak out for justice for Sutton and all victims of domestic violence.
You can email individual Councilors all day long, but they can ignore your emails.
You can call invididual Councilors all day long, but they can tell you that they’ll look into it and then do nothing.
They cannot ignore public calls for an investigation and for Marino to face consequences for her actions.
If you’re not convinced, go read the first article again. Look at the photos and listen to the audio. Then, watch the video in this article one more time.
You know what you need to do.