SAFE statement: Supporting LaShonda Lemons after adjudication of family violence caseWritten by SAFE
On Monday, The SAFE Alliance was deeply frustrated that an abuser who committed several violent acts against LaShonda Lemons, one of our employees, received no prison time.
Johnny Charles Ebbs V pleaded guilty to continuous family violence that included incidents of physical violence while Ms. Lemons was pregnant, including punching her stomach at eight months pregnant. Three days later, Ms. Lemons’ unborn child, Baby Charles, died.
The courtroom was full of SAFE’s staff and community members in support of Ms. Lemons. We witnessed her courageous words as she finally had the opportunity to share her voice in the system.
Ms. Lemons, in her allocution stated to the defendant: “Here we are in a courtroom filled with ‘Protect Black Women’ shirts, yet I don’t feel protected, and I haven’t for three and half years since you beat me. You have been coddled by the system while I’ve been victimized and traumatized with little regard as to my own experience of pain at your hands. The system, in case you aren’t already aware, is designed to protect your rights and to treat me as a ‘witness’ to your crimes.”
What is clear is that there is work to be done. We are grateful to Ms. Lemons for her powerful example and hope that the community receives the message that we stand with survivors. We will persist in this work to better serve and protect people who experience violence and abuse. SAFE shares Ms. Lemons gratitude for her attorney, Ms. Kelsey McKay, “for taking my case and working with me for over three and half years to fiercely represent me and protect me and my rights.”