Domestic Violence Industry: Criminal
By: Carey Roberts
The domestic violence industry has a habit of attracting unsavory characters into its ranks. And now three former operatives are doing hard time.
Take Barbara Dehl of Nampa, Idaho. Ten years ago Dehl single-handedly lobbied for passage of Cassieâ€™s Law, a bill aimed at stopping dating violence. That achievement landed her on the Montel Williams Show, and Sen. Mike Crapo hailed Dehl as the â€œSpirit of Idaho.â€ Her crowning moment came in 2002 when she was invited to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women.
But then Dehl got caught up in drug trafficking charges and a murder case. Two years ago Dehl was sentenced to 15 years in the slammer for the kidnapping and macabre torturing of a 20-year-old man and his girlfriend.
About the same time Cindy Lou Shores, director of the South Central Region Tribal Nations and Friends Domestic Violence Coalition in Oklahoma, was pilfering $106,000 from the coalitionâ€™s cookie jar. This past March, Shores was sentenced to 17 months in federal prison.
And two months ago the former head of Domestic Violence Emergency Services, John Scott, was sentenced to a year behind bars for stealing money from the Roanoke, Va. abuse shelter. After Scott leaves jail, he will serve another year of probation and pay $48,000 in restitution.
But the problem isnâ€™t limited to shelter officials who enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers. Shelter managers condone and even encourage a broad range of illegal activities within their own facilities.
Mistreatment of children appears to be widespread. Last October the life of toddler Myliak Dale was snuffed out when a woman backed out her car at the SafeSpace shelter in Stuart, Fla.: www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/080722 . Incidents of child abuse often go unreported to local officials, in violation of state law.
Thereâ€™s the problem of harassment and sexual assaults. At Bethany House in Falls Church, Va., two house managers were forced to resign following sexual advances of shelter residents: www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/080902 .
Drug abuse is rampant at some shelters. A former employee at Another Way of Lake City, Fla. revealed, â€œI, on numerous occasions reported illegal drug use that I had witnessed take place on Shelter property and often my complaints were ignoredâ€¦We always knew not to call the law unless you were prepared to be unemployed.â€
Some shelters forego background checks on job applicants. That policy helped Another Way land former shelter manager Wendy Pittman (four criminal charges of passing bad checks); Brenda Collins (one charge of aggravated assault and two counts of cocaine possession); and Gloria Taylor (nine misdemeanor convictions and three felonies): www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/081009 .
Many shelters have lawyers who coach women to embellish their stories or even dream up incidents that can never be refuted (â€œDonâ€™t worry, heâ€™ll never be able to prove he didnâ€™t threaten you with the knifeâ€). Then they file a series of baseless allegations that are designed to make the manâ€™s life miserable.
Thatâ€™s what they did to James Hall of McIntosh Co., Oklahoma: www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/080923 Convincing a person to commit perjury is called subornation of perjury — and thatâ€™s a crime.
Then thereâ€™s the slick shelter shake-down routine: Arrest the man on phony abuse charges and then plunder his house while heâ€™s stuck in jail. Thatâ€™s what happened to Bob Hartzog of Glendale, Ariz: www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/081117 .
Some managers believe their shelter is protected by a form of sovereign immunity — after all, our society is steeped in patriarchal privilege so women need to have a safe place.
So when 26-year-old Veronica Bullock sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy at the Brewster Center Domestic Violence Services, shelter workers not only barred the Tucson police from entering the facility, they even refused to disclose the rapistâ€™s name.
And when the police arrest a woman for assaulting her husband or boyfriend, the shelter girls scoot over to the police station and have the woman released to their custody. Once ensconced at the shelter, the assailant is free to come and go as she wishes.
For illegal immigrants, sovereign immunity means a neon-flashing â€œBienvenidosâ€ sign. Just spend a night at the local domestic violence shelter — all you need to do is scream, â€œAbuse!â€ That will entitle you to a free pass with the immigration people â€“ amazing but true: www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/070912 .
Discrimination on the basis of sex is also illegal, but who cares about abused men?: www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/080817 . Racial bias has been documented as well: www.renewamerica.us/columns/roberts/081124 .
Rounding out the picture are uncounted incidents of embezzlement, record falsification, financial irregularities, and garden-variety malfeasance: www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-DV-Programs-Misuse-1-Billion-Tax-Dollars-Per-Year.pdf
One asks, Where are all the state attorney generals and federal inspectors who are supposed to be enforcing our laws?