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Sylvie Cachay: A Beautiful Life Cut Short by Toxic Love

Domestic Violence comes in all shapes and forms.  Tragically, in the case of Sylvie Cachay, a toxic love affair with Nicholas Brooks that began in the summer of 2010 would end with her on December 9,  2010 by her lover’s very own hands.  The cause of Sylvie’s death was manual strangulation and forcible drowning.  As a family law and divorce attorney who deals with a broad spectrum of domestic violence issues including obtaining orders of protection for clients on a near daily basis, the tragic story of Sylvie Cachay sends chills up my spine.

Sylvie Cachay, 33, was a rising star in the world of swimsuit design.  Her bathing suits had been featured in magazines like Sports Illustrated, and stores like Bergdorf Goodman.  At approximately 3am on December 8, 2010, Sylvie Cachay was found submerged face up in a luxurious bathtub located in the middle of Room 20 at New York City’s exclusive SoHo House.  The bathtub water was running full blast and her small dog barking furiously nearby at the door. Her then boyfriend was Nicholas Brooks, 27, the son of Douglas Brooks, who is famous for having won an Oscar for the song “You Light Up My Life”. On July 11, 2013 a jury found him guilty of Intentional Murder. A quiet “yes!” was rang throughout the courtroom, followed by tears from nearly everyone present–in particular two jurors.  During the 20 hours that the jury deliberated, 29 notes had been sent out to the judge, with videos replayed and hours of testimony read.

During the trial which took place in New York Supreme Court (June/July 2013) prosecutors painted Nicolas Brooks as a lazy, unemployed pot headwho used Sylvie for money while he pursued escorts–his own trust fund having been cut off by his father.  Without question, there were intense emotions in the relationship with Sylive writing to Nicholas at one point, “I love you so much it hurts”.  Days later her message to him read; ” Fuck You “

Brooks’ attorney argued  during the trial that Cachay, who was 33, drowned accidentally after she passed out from an overdose of prescription pills. Only that argument was difficult to make stick when the medical examiner and Sylvie’s doctor testified that she had been on the same prescriptions for years and only therapeutic levels were found in her body at the time of death.

Evidence taken from Sylvie’s computer showed that in the days, and even the hours before she died, there were several hits to escort sites on her computer: -Dec. 1, 2010 – 2 hits at 6:50 p.m. -Dec. 8, 2010 – 2 hits at 6:40 p.m. -Dec. 8  2010 – 1 hit at 8:40 p.m.

A hand-written letter that was presented as evidence in court showed Brooks’ apologizing to Sylvie for hiring prostitutes in the “past.”  In part, it read: “Dear Sylvie, I am so sorry that I showed you my past on the e-mail the other night.  I wasn’t thinking how that would affect you.  I hope you can believe me when I say that you are so smart, beautiful and funny, and I don’t think about anyone else but you.”

Dozens of text messages that Sylvie sent to friends were presented in court:

Text from Sylvie Cachay to friend – Nov. 24, 2010 “I know I’m doing the right thing … [but it’s] hard when I need and want to take care of him.  I don’t even think he loved me.”

Text from Sylvie Cachay to friend – Nov. 25, 2010 “I’m in a sich … letting him come over … so mad at myself … I started crying.”

Those were just two of many text messages that Sylvie sent to one of her very best friends in the days and months before their relationship ended for good on December 9, 2010.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and breakups are never easy.  As I sat through the trial of Nicholas Brooks however, it was hard for me not to think: Had Sylvie Cachay shared with me the details of her relationship, I would have urged her to come with me to court to obtain an order of protection. There was testimony that Brooks had an explosive temper, that he had threatened Sylvie’s life, refused to leave her apartment, refused to return her house keys, that he called her insulting names, that he used her credit cards without her permission, … And the list goes on.  Sylvie discussed with her friends changing the locks to her apartment just a few days before her death….

Sometimes an order of protection is a necessary step to take in order to safely turn the corner and make the important decision to remove from a toxic, dangerous, and volatile person from your life.   There is nothing to be ashamed of in having to take this step to protect your safety and well- being.

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