Mom cries foul in battery arrest at Gwinnett Tech

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett police arrested a Suwanee woman this week on charges she accosted her 21-year-old daughter outside her classroom at Gwinnett Technical College after a disagreement involving a laptop.

Officers arrested Valerie Dirksen, 45, at home Sunday on misdemeanor charges of simple battery and disruption of a public school. In the Oct. 18 incident, a few students and a Gwinnett Tech instructor rushed to the alleged victim's aid, and Dirksen was asked by the instructor to leave the premises, according to a Gwinnett police report.

Dirksen was released the following day after posting $2,600 cash bond. She told the Daily Post on Tuesday she plans to fight the charges, which she believes are baseless and, in the eyes of her attorney, "very defensible," she said.

"It's really a sad day when something like this (arrest) happens," said Dirksen, a realtor who serves as administration director for the Rotary Club of Buford/North Gwinnett.

Dirksen's daughter, Sarah Dirksen, told police the incident at Gwinnett Tech wasn't the first time an ongoing rift with her mother had gotten physical. Both sides agree the issue centers on a $1,400 laptop the elder Dirksen said she bought for her daughter to aid her studies.

On Oct. 18, Valerie Dirksen said she was on the college campus taking a son she'd adopted from Haiti to a GED class, when she spotted her daughter's car. Her daughter had been ducking her for two days because the elder Dirksen wanted to discuss lifestyle choices her daughter was making, Valerie Dirksen said.

With the help of a janitor, Valerie Dirksen said she found her daughter's anatomy and physiology class and caught her attention through the classroom door. Outside the classroom, the conversation became physical when Sarah Dirksen refused to forfeit the laptop to her mother, the report and Valerie Dirksen said.

Sarah Dirksen told police her mother threatened "to pull all her hair out" and latched onto her jacket and ripped out the drawstring around the hood. The instructor and students came out when they heard the younger Dirksen threaten to call police. She later asked police to escort her to her vehicle "in case her mother was in the parking lot," the report states.

Valerie Dirksen said that account is overblown, though she admitted to grabbing her daughter's hood.

"She was the one yelling -- I didn't raise my voice once," the mother said. "I think the jacket was already ripped."

Sarah Dirksen told police her mother had punched her in the face the previous night during another confrontation over the laptop at her grandparent's house, where she was living. Her mother told the Daily Post those claims are lies, in that she didn't even see her daughter the previous night.

Valerie Dirksen scorned investigators for not interviewing her before bringing charges and surprising her with arrest warrants as she was driving out of her garage. She hopes to have the charges thrown out before an arraignment, she said.

"I'm (a) pacifist," she said. "To have me arrested, I'm still honestly in shock."

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