Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki confirmed on Monday that she was the victim of domestic abuse at Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach that led to the arrest of her ex-husband Kenneth Duane Retzer. The names of abuse victims are usually redacted in arrest reports.
According to the news sources, the alleged battery took place after 1 a.m. in a room on the sixth floor of the Fontainebleau. Sawicki was attending the 85th United States Conference of Mayors in Miami Beach over the weekend.
Sawicki had been drinking with her ex-husband at the hotel nightclub until midnight, sources say. They left for her hotel room and reportedly got into a heated argument that got physical. Sawicki was laying on one of the room’s twin beds when Retzer purportedly attempted to straddle her and placed his hands “over her throat” until she had trouble breathing. He then punched Sawicki in the face and head with his fist.
Sawicki reportedly tried to fight back and managed to “scratch Retzer on his left cheek and bite his left index finger.” Retzer punched the wall behind the bed and then left the room, the report said.
Miami Beach police officers who responded to Sawicki’s 911 call reported that she had “noticeable swelling above her left eye and on her chin.” They saw punch marks on the wall above the bed and blood stains on the sheets. Sawicki also purportedly showed them a cellphone video of her ex-husband’s “erratic” behavior, but the video did not show the actual battery.
Retzer returned to the room two hours later and Sawicki let him back in. He waited until police arrived to take him into custody. The police report said Retzer was bleeding from the face at the time of his arrest. He was treated and released from Mount Sinai Medical Center before being jailed.
Sawicki told police that Retzer had been verbally abusive to her in the past but he had never physically assaulted her before. The two have reportedly been in an intimate relationship since 2013.
“I refuse to be ashamed of it,” Sawicki told news sources on Monday. “I will not let people shame me into not doing my job or (saying) that this is my fault.” She said she intends to push for legislation to aid domestic abuse victims.
Unlike what is portrayed on television, it is not up to the victim to press charges in a domestic abuse case. The decision to press charges can be made by the prosecution, and it is not unusual for prosecutors to pursue a domestic battery case even when the victim wants to drop the charges.
The more serious the offense, the less likely the prosecution will agree to drop the charges or agree to a more lenient sentence. The severity of the injuries sustained by the victim, the use of a weapon, and the offender’s history with violence are examples of factors prosecutors use to determine the seriousness of a domestic abuse case.