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The hidden half of domestic violence

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More Restraining  Order Abuse

In an example of the poor judgment common to men and women when an affair falls apart, the evening of Thursday, May 10, 2001, Speaker of the Colorado House Doug Dean, age 40, went to the house of TAP Pharmaceuticals lobbyist Gloria Sanak, age 35, to retrieve personal items. He had been living in her Denver home for some months, but their affair ended on May 9th according to news reports, and she had changed the locks and put his belongings outside.

According to his published statements, as he was going through his possessions on the lawn, he found some items missing, e.g., the charger for his cell phone. Because Ms. Sanak had changed the locks, Dean used a screwdriver to pry open a basement window in order to retrieve his missing personal effects from inside a house he had recently lived in. Probably not a smart move but a practical solution many men would likely take to getting their property back in a similar situation.

Unfortunately, while Dean was in the house he had recently occupied, Ms. Sanak came home at about 11:30 P.M. Understandably, Ms. Sanak was somewhat frightened to find someone in her house, and it would appear his attempts at an explanation went awry.
As a result she fled to a neighbor's house with Dean behind her, apparently screwdriver still in hand. Police were called via her cell phone. When the police arrived, both Dean and Sanak told officers there were no "threats, coercion, violence, intimidation, control or revenge" between the two and no arrest was made despite a state law requiring that action in all domestic violence situations.
"What has been determined, even at the strictest interpretation of this law, is that this particular incident did not fall under the parameters necessary to make an arrest under the domestic violence policy," said Denver detective Virginia Lopez. Police Chief Gerald Whitman found it was done by the book, Lopez said.
However, on Friday, May 11th, Ms. Sanak went to court and requested a restraining order, claiming Dean climbed a locked fence and broke into her home. Sanak stated in her request for the restraining order that: "He waited in the dark 30 minutes until I arrived home. He had a screwdriver in his hand. He chased me down the street to a neighbor's house and refused to leave until the police escorted him out." However, officers were not given that information at the scene, Denver police spokeswoman Virginia Lopez said.
Exercising a woman's prerogative, Gloria Sanak changed her mind, and asked that the order be dropped Tuesday, May 15th. She gave no explanation in court, but said in papers filed with the clerk that Dean had "peaceably moved his property" out of her house since the order was issued. In a brief hearing Tuesday morning, Judge Campbell told Sanak he was honoring her request because he is "always reluctant to stand in the way" of an alleged victim's wishes.

After the restraining order was vacated, questions arose over why the Colorado Springs lawmaker, one of the state's highest-ranking political leaders, wasn't arrested under the state's domestic violence law. Police, armed with information Sanak included in the order, say they're now reviewing the case to see if any laws were broken.

Because Dean was not arrested when police responded to the house of Sanak's neighbor Thursday morning, long standing concerns about the enforcement of Colorado's domestic violence statutes, which are among the strongest in the country, were again raised.
Noting that according to the restraining order filed, Dean was alleged to have chased Ms. Sanak down the street to a neighbor's house and refused to leave until police showed up, Rita Smith, executive director of the Denver-based National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and feminist factoid producer-extraordinary, stated: "That action alone was enough to arrest him under Colorado's mandatory-arrest domestic-violence law." Continuing, she intoned: "At one point she felt threatened enough to run away from him. I think that's clearly an issue of domestic violence," she said. "They don't give out restraining orders without cause. There's something going on there. Normally people don't chase you down the street. It's not common behavior."

Apparently Ms. Smith has never been in love, nor witnessed the incredibly stupid things people do when smitten.
Dean apologized Tuesday, May 15th, to members of the Colorado House for "any embarrassment" the episode may have caused. With Sanak, a dishwater blonde, sitting silently beside him and looking rather shopworn, Dean later gave a brief statement to reporters: "We consider this a personal matter; we ask that you respect our privacy. There was no violence, there was no attempted violence, there was no threat of violence; there were no charges filed; there was no law broken by anyone," Dean said. Neither of them answered any questions. But "Now that we have information that we didn't have before, we need to start all over," said Denver police Lt. Gary Lauricella, commander of the domestic violence unit.

Further police action in this case would simply act to compound the human problems and frailties so evident in both Dean's and Sanak's behavior.

For newspaper articles on this story see:
Denver Post,1002,61%257E34451,00.html
Rocky Mountain News,1299,DRMN_15_486764,00.html
Colorado Springs Gazette


Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.               
455 Bear Creek Road     
Colorado Springs, CO 80906-5820             
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