Robert Vicosa, 42, a fired Baltimore County police officer, and Tia Bynum, his female accomplice, allegedly falsely imprisoned Vicosa’s estranged wife at gunpoint Friday, Nov. 12, in his Windsor Township home in Pennsylvania near the border with Maryland. To protect her privacy as a victim, the wife's name has not been released by authorities.
After forcing his wife to take drugs and sexually assaulting her, he released her Sunday, November 14. He kept their two daughters, 6-year-old Aaminah and 7-year-old Giana.
Fearing for her daughters' safety, the wife obtained an emergency PFA (Protection From Abuse) order for herself and her two daughters. She wrote: “My husband and his friend held me at gun point and tied me up in the basement. He told me that he would kill me and our children if my family or the police were to arrive to the house.”
At 8:56 Sunday evening, District Judge Ronald Haskell Jr. signed the PFA. At 9 p.m., Haskell signed a warrant to search Vicosa's house and seize his weapons. For reasons that are unclear, the PFA and warrant were not served until Monday afternoon.
When officers arrived at Vicosa's house at 3:28 p.m. to serve the PFA, the home was empty. Vicosa, his daughters, and his guns were gone.
What Was Supposed to Happen
If Vicosa had been home, Aaminah and Giana might still be alive. Once served with the PFA, Vicosa would have had only two options: Leave the house and his daughters peacefully and immediately—or be arrested.
A PFA is a civil court order that immediately commands the person named in the PFA, the defendant, to cease any and all contact with plaintiff and anyone else named in the PFA. Violation of a PFA is a criminal offense and the defendant is subject to immediate arrest.
An emergency PFA is exactly what is says it is. It is granted nights, weekends, and holidays by an on-call judge when danger of violence is imminent. However, this kind of PFA is only good until the next day in court when the plaintiff must request a formal ex-parte PFA, which the mother did Monday afternoon.
An ex parte PFA is based only on the plaintiff's allegations. It is good for about 10 business days when the defendant is allowed to contest the PFA in court. The judge then decides to either dismiss the PFA or issue a final PFA that can last up to three years.
A Missed Opportunity
As counterintuitive as it might sound, a PFA might have been in Vicosa's best interest. While a PFA is designed to protect the plaintiff, it can also have the effect of preventing the defendant from taking regrettable, irreversible actions.
If you or a loved one is served with a PFA, it is essential that you follow the instructions explicitly lest you end up in jail with a permanent criminal record. Call the Lento Law Firm immediately at 888-535-3686 to get the legal representation you need to fight the charge.