This is an opinion column.
I abhor domestic violence.
I have a daughter. The thought of a man — of anyone— laying hands on her… there are no words. (Or none appropriate to share in this space)
The thought of anyone laying hands on any among other women I know — exes, nieces, cousins, friends, coworkers, daughters of cousins and friends co-workers… no words.
In my lifetime, thankfully, domestic violence has been yanked from the shadows where it lurked for generations and labeled what it is: Unacceptable. Illegal. Immoral.
I raised my son to never lay a hand on a woman — for any reason, no matter. And my daughter to never tolerate a hand. For any reason. No damn matter.
Domestic violence is unacceptable, illegal, and immoral. And on the rise.
“We continue to see an increase in domestic violence crimes across the county, specifically domestic violence-related homicides,” says Allison Dearing, executive director of One Place Metro Family Justice Center in Birmingham. Over half of all known homicide offenders in Jefferson County have a history of domestic violence charges against them (58% in 2019, 53% in 2020).
“We have to take crimes of domestic violence seriously.”
Its evolution was not perfect, not swift enough.
Entertainment too often diluted and diminished domestic violence. Face slaps were normalized on reality TV. And in courtrooms, judges too often returned victims into homes with abusive offenders — didn’t hear them, until it was too late. Sometimes tragically so.
Domestic violence in sports was quietly tolerated for generations. It was shielded in the showers. Left languishing in the locker room. Finally, as domestic violence became widely acknowledged as unacceptable, illegal, and immoral, sports could no longer hide it. Or hide from it.
That is why we gasped on Thursday afternoon at news of the arrest of popular Denver Broncos (and former Alabama) wide receiver Jerry Jeudy at his Arapahoe County home on the charge of second-degree criminal tampering with a domestic violence enhancer.
I had no clue what that last phrase meant. I saw domestic violence and my mind, like maybe yours, too, went directly to unacceptable, illegal, and immoral.
Read more on Jerry Jeudy arrest, charge:
Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy arrested in Colorado
Sheriff seeks to ‘clear up a couple of issues’ on arrest
Jeudy out of jail, but case continues
Reaction was so pervasive similar that Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler S. Brown took the unusual step Thursday evening of sharing details of the encounter between Jeudy and the mother of their one-month-old son that led to Jeudy being held overnight without bond. “To clarify a couple of issues,” Brown said.
Significant issues, it turned out.
“There was no physical contact between them,” Brown said. “It solely involved property. There was no damage to property. All that happened is that there was an accusation that the property was being withheld. ”
The property, the sheriff noted, was a wallet belonging to the woman, a child car seat, and medical information related to the child. (A police report obtained by a Denver television station said baby formula was also involved.) She called the police for what Brown termed a “keep the peace” situation because she was trying to leave, and the wallet was locked in a car. “She was unable to access it,” Brown said.
You wonder if the responding deputies could have better kept the peace by simply accessing the wallet and other items and allowing the woman to leave.
You wonder if they might have done such had the man not been Jeudy. Had he not been a professional athlete. Not been a dreadlocked… I’ll just leave that right there.
Instead, they arrested him. “There was an accusation that property was being withheld and deputies determined there was a probable cause to make an arrest,” Brown said.
In Colorado, domestic violence, in and of itself, is not a crime. Yet it can be applied as an “enhancer” (similar to a “hate crime”), which elevates any alleged offense.
Why was it applied here? Because Jeudy and the female birthed a child.
The state’s domestic-violence statutes include crimes against property “when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor has been involved in an intimate relationship,” Brown said.
Colorado defines “intimate relationship” as one “between a spouse, former spouse, past or present unmarried couples, or a person with whom the parent or parents have a common child, regardless of whether that person has been married or has lived together at any time. ”
Thus, merely because Jeudy and the woman have a son, their no-physical-contact encounter was deemed domestic violence.
Second-degree criminal tampering — in this case, denying access to the wallet and the other items — is a “low-level misdemeanor,” Brown said. (It’s broad, too: If the person intends to create an “inconvenience or annoyance” like, the sheriff noted, hiding car keys, it’s a crime.)
The domestic violence enhancer required Jeudy be held overnight without bond until he appeared before a judge.
Because of the enhancer, we gasped.
Because of the enhancer, a young man was quickly tainted by an allegation we all abhor. And young parents found themselves where neither wanted to be.
By arresting, detaining Jeudy and enhancing it wth domestic violence, Arapahoe County diminished the awfulness of domestic violence. It didn’t have to go down like this.
It shouldn’t have gone down like this.
At the court hearing in Denver Friday morning, the woman asked Judge Chantal Contiguglia to drop the charges, saying she never felt threatened, never intended to have Jeudy arrested, and did not want a no-contact order imposed. A mandatory protection order was issued and Jeudy was released on a $ 1,500 personal recognition bond.
He is due back in court on May 31.
Based on what we know now about the encounter in Arapahoe County — and none of us knows all that transpired — and its mountainous reverberations, it all seems so unfortunate.
So diluting and demeaning to the violence that every day haunts too many domestic relationships.
So. over enhanced.
More columns by Roy S. Johnson
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Any reasonable, empathetic Republicans out there? Time to stand up
After my challenge, Alabama’s reasonable republicans stood up
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Roy S. Johnson is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary and winner of 2021 Edward R. Morrow prize for podcasts: “Unjustifiable,” co-hosted with John Archibald. His column appears in The Birmingham News and AL.com, as well as the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org him at twitter.com/roysjor on Instagram @roysj.