Criminal makes history while holding woman hostage

Aly Scott and Leila Rydell

Domestic violence is a horrendous crime that leaves people mentally scarred and physically damaged, along with forcing victims to carry an awful weight with them for the rest of their lives. Knowing the effects domestic violence can have on any one person is the reason why it is unlawful in the state of Illinois. Surely no one disagrees with such a precaution, but the court system is still not actually doing all they can to put abusers behind bars. The Winnebago County Court System is flooded with all kinds of crime, making it hard to carry out some cases, like domestic violence, with the standards they should be treated with.
On Friday, Jan. 3rd, local Rockford bank Heritage Credit Union was shut down due to an attempted robbery and hostage situation according to WREX.com. The Rockford Police Department arrived around 2:30 p.m. that afternoon. After a nearly seven-hour stalemate, the criminal and his one hostage were seen peacefully exiting the bank.
The offender, Nicholas August, entered the bank armed and ordered everyone to leave while he chose one female bank employee as his hostage. Prosecutors say August sexually assaulted and choked the bank employee while inside (police believe the two had no prior connection to each other). He has since been charged with robbery and sexual assault.
August appeared in court on Monday, January 6th for the first time since the stand-off. He has been charged on six accounts total. Only four of these have anything to do with the Friday’s Heritage Bank incident. It was later found that August had at least thirteen prior orders of protection filed against him, as well as three previous domestic violence charges. Additionally, he was wanted on multiple warrants for his arrest, the most recent one issued in December of 2019. The bail for Nicholas August has been set at two million dollars.
Although he has a lengthy criminal record, a court system will not use this during a trial. This kind of information, however, is considered during a pretrial and after a case is settled, but holds no effect while the trial is in session. After the defendant’s past has been examined by the judge, if convicted, it usually helps determine a bond amount or the severity of consequence(s).
When asked, considering his past, why he has been able to walk around unrestrained, Eric Bruno, retired police officer and now a teacher at East High School says, “What the public has to understand is that the criminal justice system in of itself is completely overwhelmed with cases.”
This means that there are not enough resources to handle every case coming in with diligence, so they are sometimes handled in a rushed manner. Unfortunately, in this case a dangerous individual like August was able to walk with little consequence to his actions.
Domestic violence is a horrendous crime that leaves people mentally scarred and physically damaged, along with forcing victims to carry an awful weight with them for the rest of their lives. Knowing the effects domestic violence can have on any one person is the reason why it is unlawful in the state of Illinois. Surely no one disagrees with such a precaution, but the court system is still not actually doing all they can to put abusers behind bars. The Winnebago County Court System is flooded with all kinds of crime, making it hard to carry out some cases, like domestic violence, with the standards they should be treated with.
“It is upsetting that that happened to her, especially if he had previous cases against him the fact that he had multiple cases and was still not behind bars is just not okay,” said Addi Cox, class of 2021.
One might be wondering the psychological state August was in while committing his crime. In an attempt to help those understand, Bruno comments, “It’s really tragic. In my 25 years I’ve never seen anything like that before. most people aren’t trying to do anything in front of the police. If they do do it in front of the police, they didn’t realize the police were present. But he clearly knew that they were outside, and he still assaulted her while the police were outside. A very, very violent individual, and a very different type of person.”
To stop the issue from growing into a larger problem than it already is, we need more resources and our system needs to reform the consequences that these abusers are being punished with. Harsher consequences and education such as required counseling and jail time is vital to happen if we can hope for people to really understand that domestic violence is never allowed.