Violent Colorado Women — 1998

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Stories

Granby businessman charged with domestic violence, charges dropped when prosecutor doesn't believe the 'victim'

Man charged with felony DV because he unplugs phone

Two sisters in Denver make a game of charging men with DV:

First case

Second case

Adams County District Attorney calls police claiming his wife attacking him


 

Granby businessman charged with domestic violence, charges dropped when prosecutor doesn't believe the 'victim'

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On the evening of April 28, 1998, prominent Granby property manager, Dennis Hankey, age 59, was arrested for third-degree assault involving domestic violence based on allegations of his then live-in girlfriend, Carol E. Christman, in her late forties, that Hankey grabbed her wrists several times and forcibly pulled her back into his residence. Also, she reported he attempted to fondle her, pushed her, and grabbed her wrist again. She claimed he then pushed her down twice and that her head hit a cabinet the second time. She then left his residence.

Ms. Christman made her report to the Winter Park police substation after Hankey called police to report he was worried about her and her ability to drive. He admits she was quite emotional when she left his residence.

As mandated under C.R.S. § 18-6-803.6, Hankey was then arrested and placed in jail until a preliminary hearing could be held the next day, and he could post bond. He was also issued a mandatory restraining order under C.R.S. § 18-1-1001.

Despite the fact that Ms. Christman's claims to police were made after they contacted her on Hankey's instigation, and there was no marks of an altercation evident on her person, the police "believed the victim," and proceeded to arrest Mr. Hankey.

The law states that:

"When a peace officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence...has been committed, the officer shall, without undue delay, arrest the person suspected of its commission..."

In general, probable cause includes the single, unsupported statement of a woman if there are no conflicting statements from other witnesses. It is for this reason that many women wait until the next day to report the incident when the man isn't around to give his side of the story, or go to a police station, doctor, or hospital to report they have been assaulted. With no opposing evidence or statements, police are forced to make a warrantless arrest under C.R.S. § 18-6-803.6.

As Mr. Hankey discovered the next day, the "perpetrator" is then in the position of having to prove his innocence. The restraining order is also immediately entered into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation database. Should the now "guilty until proven innocent" perpetrator be found with a weapon he would be in violation of a Federal law making it a felony to possess a firearm while under a restraining order for domestic violence. The mandatory sentence for violating that law is five to ten years in a federal penitentiary. That applies whether you are found innocent of the original domestic violence charge or not. See the Emerson case for what is happening to a medical doctor in Texas who has been so charged.

A few weeks later, while his case was still pending and the restraining order in effect, Hankey was on his way to Denver on business when he inadvertently passed Ms. Christman on Highway U.S. 40 going over Berthoud Pass (see front page of March 30, 1999, Denver Post). According to Dennis:

"She stopped and called the Empire police and told them I had a gun. When they stopped me, of course I didn't. But they thought there was enough to issue a summons for violation of a restraining order."

since the restraining order required him to keep at least 100 yards from her.

The issue was not brought to a hearing until December, 1998, nearly eight months after charges were filed against him. The case against Hankey was then dropped. According to the Denver Post story, the prosecutor Craig Henderson, disdainfully asked for dismissal.

The March 19, 1999, issue of the Grand County Daily Tribune quotes Henderson as telling the court:

"Judge, we're filing a motion to dismiss basically for two reasons. The first reason is that there is no physical evidence in this case that there was third-degree assault committed. The investigation turns up no marks, no scratches, no bruises or anything like that."

Also, Henderson said there were "several inconsistencies" in the statements of the "victim" to investigators in the course of the case. He then bluntly told the court: "I don't feel confident in my victim in this case, whatsoever. I don't believe her." [Emphasis added]

During the course of the brief hearing, Mr. Hankey's attorney told the court:

"Your honor, this is a good example of someone abusing the system. Of someone abusing the system for the wrong — for wrong reasons, for improper reasons, for illegal reasons. Mr. Hankey has suffered as a result of these allegations."

Only then, after eight months, was Mr. Hankey free of the danger of imminent arrest and imprisonment without further hearing for violating a restraining order put in place for a crime he did not commit. In a small community like Granby it is almost impossible to avoid violating restraining order terms requiring the "perpetrator" to remain at least 100 or more yards from the "victim" at all times. Even inadvertent and unintentional closer approach has seen men jailed. Examples abound of women deliberately entrapping men by approaching them and then calling police on their cell phones. A variant of such entrapment was attempted by Ms. Christman in calling the police when she saw Hankey pass her going the other way over Berthoud Pass, so his risk was real, continual, and oppressive.


 

Man charged with felony DV because he unplugs phone

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The June 11, 1998, edition of Westword carries a story in which a man got into an argument with his girlfriend at their suburban home. There was no evidence of violence, such as a punch or a kick. She later alleged that he shoved her, though that remains in dispute. What really got the man in trouble was, when she threatened to call the police, he said, "No, you' re not," and pulled the plug on the telephone.

There were still other ways she could have contacted the police. He did not try to stop her from leaving the apartment, tie her up, or even prevent her from using the other two telephones in the apartment. Instead, according to the story, she went to bed. Apparently it wasn't until the next afternoon, while she was at work, that she decided to call the police. He was arrested and had to spend the night in jail.

In what is now standard practice in most Colorado jurisdictions, the man was originally charged with a felony offense under a Colorado state wiretapping statute that prohibits anyone from preventing or interfering "in any way" with a telephone call. The wiretapping offense is punishable by up to eighteen months in prison. A felony, or a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, has powerful consequences for a man's future. That is especially true where employment requires a bond, background check, or security clearance.

The prosecutor in the case contended that the man's actions were "demeaning and controlling" and therefore fell under the domestic-violence statutes.

Unwilling to risk a felony conviction, or spend the large amount of money necessary to go to trial the man accepted a plea bargain to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge and was sentenced to a year's probation, 36 weeks of domestic-violence counseling at a cost of $1,600, a permanent restraining order, and a lifetime sentence of no weapons. His name will also come up as every time the police stop him because of the restraining order. And if they find him in her company, even with her permission, he will go to jail.

"Where was the violence?" his attorney asked?


 

Two sisters in Denver make a game of charging men with DV:

First case

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The same June 11, 1998, edition of Westword also carried a story of two other cases of domestic violence, both involving the same two sisters.

In the first case, the younger sister got her former boyfriend arrested on a domestic-violence charge for telephone "disturbance." The boyfriend had wanted a television back he had loaned to the older sister and money back he had loaned to his then-girlfriend.

He called with his demands once too often and the girls had a tape of him calling and asking for his stuff back. In one of the messages he apparently said, "Why can't I get a f***ing return phone call?" He didn't threaten her or her sister but because he used f***, he was charged with disturbance for using obscene language on the telephone.

According to the man's attorney: "The most ludicrous part was that it was a message he left for the older sister, with whom he didn't have an 'intimate relationship,' because he couldn't get the younger sister to call him back. But he still got tagged with domestic violence."

Fortunately, the attorney was able to locate witnesses who said the young women had boasted to friends that they knew how to get back at former lovers who crossed them. They even had allegedly laughed about writing a book about how to use Colorado's domestic-violence statutes as a weapon .

According to the Westword story, the younger sister had a personal perspective on domestic violence statutes: She had previously been arrested for assaulting another boyfriend and forced to take anger-management classes, which she referred to in front of friends as "how-to-beat-up-your-boyfriend-and-get-away-with-it classes."

The man's attorney tried in the first case to get the city attorney to listen to the witnesses and dismiss the charges. But the prosecutor said he couldn't make any deals that didn't include a guilty plea, probation, and 36 weeks of domestic-violence counseling, as mandated by Colorado law.

In this case the man was willing to go to trial ( and we think you should be as well ) but it wasn't until the morning of the trial, when the man and his attorney showed up with "a train of witnesses," that the prosecutor relented. The prosecutor talked to the witnesses, then talked to the sisters, then decided that he didn't think he could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and dropped the charges. Note that before the trial the courts and the prosecutors do not listen to the man at all, and we suggest you don't try. Nor, under the "no drop" law, will they listen to the woman no matter how much she may want to drop the charges. Domestic violence is a crime against the State and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the taxpayer's ability to pay.

According to the attorney in the case: "It cost my client a few thousand dollars for me to prepare for trial, not to mention his time and the stress. Anything but a crime with that 'Domestic Violence' stamped on the file, and they would have dropped it way before it got that far."

Second case

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Only a month later, the same attorney tangled yet again with the sister act. It began one night when the older sister quarreled with her boyfriend outside a downtown bar. The two sisters and a third friend tried to leave with the boyfriend's car. When he tried to get into his car, the sisters jumped out and began to yell for help. The boyfriend was grabbed by two paramedics who happened to be in the area and held for the police.

According to a police report, the older sister claimed that on the way from the bar to the car, her boyfriend grabbed her in a bear hug and threatened to "beat the shit out of her."

In accordance with Colorado law, the man was handcuffed and arrested on misdemeanor domestic-violence charges of assault, threatening, and disturbing the peace. At the Denver County Jail, the man, despite being a business owner with no police record, was told he couldn't post bond until he appeared before a judge the next afternoon. A mandatory stay in jail without the opportunity to post bond, often for more than 48 hours, is the rule in domestic violence cases. Only first-degree murder carries a similar mandatory jail stay. After the man got out of jail, he hired the attorney who, fortunately, had prior experience with these two sisters.

A week before the trial, a witness was found who said he' d been sitting in his car in the area where the older sister claimed to have been grabbed by the boyfriend. He said he' d seen no such assault. That gave the man a witness who could dispute the assault and intimidation charges. The biggest hurdle was then the disturbing-the-peace charge. Essentially, if you yell at someone in public, you are guilty of disturbing the peace if the jury follows the letter of the law.

In this man's case the prosecutor offered to drop the assault and threatening charges if he would plead guilty to disturbing the peace. It would mean one year of probation and domestic violence counseling, for which he would have to pay $1,600. Wisely, the man decided to go to trial.

The jury first listened to the sisters. They then heard from the witnesses, including those who testified about having heard the sisters boast about using the law for retribution. It took jurors less than an hour to return verdicts of not guilty for each of the charges. Victory had a price — thousands of dollars for the man — and the time and resources of the judicial system. However, he is a free man and, if he has taken extraordinary steps, he no longer appears in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), or the FBI, databases. Should he need bonding for his company, or a security clearance, the charges will still appear in his records, however.

Under Colorado law there is little recourse for falsely filing criminal charges or a restraining order. And there seems little doubt the sisters are still playing their games.


 

Adams County District Attorney calls police claiming his wife attacking him

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On the night of August 23, 1998, Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant called Brighton police saying his wife was attacking him.

Melody Grant told the responding officer that her husband had pushed her down the stairs, a charge Grant denied.

Both Grants appeared intoxicated, and each had sustained a minor cut, police said.

Neither was arrested, as police found no probable cause, insufficient evidence, and no coherent account of what had occurred.

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| Chapter 12 — Stories Of Violent Women And Abused Men In Colorado |

| Next — Violent Colorado women-1999 |

| Back — Anecdotes from friends, acquaintances, and other sources in Colorado |


 

This site is supported and maintained by the Equal Justice Foundation.

Last modified 10/7/16