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Friday, October 06, 2006
Justice Denied: Abuse Charges Against Brett Myers Dropped

Massachusetts state court Judge Raymond Dougan, Jr., ruled yesterday that Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Brett Myers will not stand trial for beating up his wife, Kim, outside a Sheraton Hotel in Boston last June (Laurel J. Sweet, "Pitcher's Free Pass Angers Victim Advocates," Boston Herald, Oct. 6, 2006). As you probably recall, the 6'4, 240 pound Myers--a former amateur boxer--allegedly dragged Kim by the hair and repeatedly smacked and punched her in front of a crowded street, only a couple of days before his scheduled start against the Red Sox. Here are excerpts from 9-1-1 calls by two bystanders who watched Kim get beaten up:
"There's a guy like beating up his girlfriend," a woman told Boston's 911 operators during the June 23 incident.

"I got a guy smacking a girl around right in front of the Hynes Convention Center. She's crying. She's got no shoes on," a man reported. "He's a pretty big guy... and he's hitting her hard."

During yesterday's pre-trial hearing, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley argued that Brett Myers should plead guilty, serve two years’ probation, attend a 40-week certified program for batterers, and submit to alcohol-abuse evaluation. However, Kim Myers said that she would not testify against her husband, thus eliminating much of the evidence. In fact, she seemed to almost blame herself for what happened:
"I became upset with him and I pushed him away from me. That’s when other people saw us disagreeing with each other.”
I suspect some might view Kim's response as consistent with battered wives' syndrome, although without knowing more about her and Brett's marriage and whether there was a history of violence, it's hard to jump to that conclusion. Moreover, I think we can empathize with her current position: she's married and presumably loves her husband, and wants to see if they can make their marriage work. So while her decision to not testify may strike us as unfortunate and potentially regrettable, it is understandable given her situation.

Nevertheless, it's disconcerting that our criminal justice system can't hold Brett Myers accountable in any way, and since his victim won't bring civil and tort claims against him, it appears that he'll suffer no sanction from any court. Even his own employer, the Phillies, found his behavior unworthy of sanction, as they allowed him to start against the Red Sox, and never even bothered to suspended him (he instead took a short--and paid--"leave of absence"). This is an incredibly sad story and one, in my view, suggestive of our need to earnestly revisit how the legal system and employers treat domestic violence.


This case is not necessarily suggestive of the need to re-visit the way "the legal system" handles domestic violence cases. The rosecutor is obviously an integral part of the legal system and yet he didn't just surrender to the "system" once his victim announced she would be un-cooperative. As a matter of fact prosecutor Conley did all he could to forge ahead despite opposition from Myers and his attorney, the judge, much of the sports media, and even his own victim.

Blogger Paul D -- 10/07/2006 9:31 AM  


Thanks for your comment. When I refer to the legal system, I do not intend to criticize District Attorney Conley or Judge Dougan, but rather the rules that they and others must operate in for domestic violence cases. I should probably edit the post to make that clearer.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 10/07/2006 9:45 PM  

I agree that it's hard to conclude that there is battered wives syndrome at play without more knowledge, but Kim Myers is certainly not setting a very good example by simply walking away from the case.

If her primary interest was preserving the marriage, couldn't she have continued with the case and plead leniency with the judge? Wouldn't that potentially make an impact on the decision?

As it is, she's preserving her marriage at the cost of absolving her husband of any legal consequences for his acts, which were witnessed, apparently, by a number of individuals. One might point out that such capitulation hardly makes for a good relationship.

And furthermore, there is enough of a stigma that exists already for battered women and the abused, that too many incidents go unreported. The last thing we need is individuals like Mrs. Myers dropping the charges against her husband and giving the impression that after one violent incident, everything can go back to being hunky-dory, which we know is often not the case.

Blogger Satchmo -- 10/07/2006 11:45 PM  

Michael, this reminds me of the domestic abuse trial of Warren Moon, when he physically assualted his wife. She refused to press charges, but under Texas law (where they resided at), prosecutors automatically pressed charges on Moon for battery, whether Mrs. Moon wanted to file them or not.

During the trial, as the prosecutor presented his case, Moon and his wife were seen smirking, to the point of laughing because they felt the trial was a waste of time. That is equally as embarrassing as Myers being let go. It continues to be a sad legacy that domestic abuse continues to leave in it's wake.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/12/2006 8:48 PM  

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