|From: Dave Usher [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, November 23, 2001 12:11 AM
Subject: ACFCmo - Letter to the KC Star
You might enjoy my letter to the KC Star, which has also been sent all up and down the
Missouri House and Senate.
PS: Have the best Thanksgiving possible. Let me say from personal experience that even
when we think there is nothing to be thankful for, there are many in this world that have
things far worse than we do. Let us be grateful for what is in our lives and keep the
faith that if we do the right things we can put things back into reasonable order.
Letters to the Editor
Kansas City Star
Re: "Law on domestic violence draws praise, doubts" (copied
The Star's November 19th article "Law on domestic violence draws praise,
doubts" proves that sexism is dangerously alive in Missouri politics.
Rep. Carson Ross, Jackson County Prosecutor Bob Beaird, and the NCADV are factually
wrong to blame domestic violence substantially or solely on men.
Their policies and beliefs are a clearly unsound.
Every major study on domestic violence informs us that women initiate slightly over
half of all serious domestic altercations. 86% of serious spousal altercations involve a
spouse who is drinking or drugging. Over 3/4 o[f] serious domestic altercations take place
after separation -- not at the hands of husbands in the home as is commonly mis-stated.
Misandry is a most dangerous attitude to substitute for sound policy.
Dredging up one or two cases of clinical abuse by males does not justify wholesale
incarceration of other men involved in very minor spousal disagreements for 7 years. Even
Dr. Murray Straus, who fought for the first national domestic violence laws in the early
1970's, says we are just plain wrong to blame it all on men.
The best way to prevent broken bones is to provide hot lines and public services to all
individuals who are in the awful position of dealing with an abusive spouse, and in
helping the responsible spouse get the troubled spouse into treatment if they are abusing
drugs or alcohol.
It is a fact that 66% of fatal child abuse in Missouri is caused by the mother, while
natural fathers represent the lowest risk group. I condemn these politicians who would
fool us into thinking they are helping the public by locking up good husbands, or evicting
them from their homes on false abuse allegations, while helpless children are left to be
raised by physically violent alcohol or drug abusing mothers.
Federal legislators are partially to blame because
radical feminists have done an
awesome job terrorizing Washington into passing billions of dollars in one-eyed domestic
violence funding. But this does not excuse Missouri politicians, who must be held
responsible for their dangerously anti-family policies and replaced with individuals
capable of creating and executing sound policies for the real benefit of Missouri's
families and children.
David R. Usher
ACFC Missouri Coalition
118 Oakwood, Webster Groves, Mo 63119
314 961-5875 (home)
314 770-3231 (work)
--- ORIGINAL ARTICLE ---
Kansas City Star, The (MO)
Law on domestic violence draws praise, doubts
Some prosecutors say it is too tough
November 19, 2001
The Kansas City Star
By JOE LAMBE
Missouri prosecutors are using a tough new law against domestic abusers - one so tough
that even some prosecutors say it goes too far. The state felony charge can be used in any
domestic violence case. It makes even an attempted slap from a first offender punishable
by up to seven years in prison. Since the law's start about 14 months ago, it has sent 44
persons to prison with average sentences of 4.4 years.
Rep. Carson Ross, a Blue Springs Republican, praised prosecutors for using the law he
The second-degree domestic assault law was intended to stop batterers before they
maimed or killed, he said. "We don't want you to have broken bones before we
Previously prosecutors needed three convictions or evidence of broken bones, permanent
disfigurement or other serious physical injury before they could file felony charges.
There are plenty of domestic violence crimes that could lead to felony charges. Kansas
City police alone make more than 5,000 such arrests a year.
That means prosecutors have to decide where to draw the line.
Last week Jackson County Prosecutor Bob Beaird said his staff would use the law in
cases such as broken noses, stitches and choking injuries. He also will use it against
those with any prior state domestic violence convictions or eight prior domestic arrests.
"If you continually assault your wife or girlfriend, society has a right to step
in," Beaird said.
Yet some prosecutors say the law could be misused.
"One prosecutor might do them all as felonies," said Richard Callahan,
director of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. It also will coerce people
to plead guilty to lesser charges, he said.
Kansas City defense lawyer Sean O'Brien called the law an uncreative attack on a social
problem. He noted that the punishment for punching a stranger on the street is at most one
"It is now seven times more serious to hit a family member than a perfect
stranger," O'Brien said. "Yet someone who goes around punching perfect strangers
is probably more of a threat to society."
Kansas law requires serious injuries or three convictions before domestic violence is a
Missouri's new law fits a pattern of states getting harsher on domestic violence, said
Juley Fulcher, public policy director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"There has been increasing interest in treating domestic violence as a serious
crime," she said, especially because recent studies show court-ordered counseling did
not stop batterers.
Sue Else, president of Hope House, a battered-women's shelter in Independence, lobbied
for the new law and said it should be used.
"The only thing that seems to work is incarceration," she said. "If you
slap him on the wrist and let him out, he's going to hit her again."
Curbing domestic violence will reduce other social ills, experts say. For example,
children in homes with domestic abuse are more likely to become criminals and batterers.
Missouri has a serious problem with the consequences of domestic violence. A study last
month by the Violence Policy Center found that in 1999 Missouri was in the top 10 states
in the incidence of men killing women.
Provisions in the new law have made it easier for prosecutors to bring more serious
charges against abusers. It specifically makes domestic choking and strangulation a
That is why Platte County used it against Russell L. Sharples, who choked his wife
unconscious. He pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced to seven years.
Platte County Prosecutor Tammy J. Glick said that was the only time her office used the
law. She will use it only when the facts of a case make it the best charge, she said.
In Jackson County two persons have pleaded guilty under the law. They were sentenced to
probation but face seven years in prison if they fail.
Clay County prosecutors said that they used the law two or three times a month and that
it usually resulted in guilty pleas and sentences of probation.
Jim Roberts, criminal services coordinator for the Clay County prosecutor, said the law
ultimately would be controlled by Missouri jurors.
"If you file felonies for what are misdemeanors, you're going to look silly,"
he said, and jurors will not convict.
Most domestic violence crimes are prosecuted in lower courts. Last year Jackson County
prosecuted 600 of more than 5,000 Kansas City domestic violence cases. The rest went to
Ross said that the legislation was not intended to solve all problems in domestic
violence and that the legislature might need to make adjustments.
"We need to get the word out that this is on the books," he said. "We
want feedback from prosecutors and judges on how well it is working."
To reach Joe Lambe, Jackson County courts reporter, call (816) 234-4314 or send e-mail
# We must now grant to fathers
# The same right to be in the family
# As we have granted to women in the workplace
# If a young boy cannot grow up
# Expecting to be a father and husband,
# Then how can this be America?
# -- Dave Usher
# The American Coalition for Fathers and Children
# 800 978-DADS
# ACFC Missouri Coalition Website
# We should be thankful we don't get
# as much government as we have paid for.
# -- Will Rogers