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J BIT"':. A. Brown
Naney S. BmmMlo~ Edward M. ColllUO
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District Attorney Kansas Third Judicial District

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Dun.11i M. MU"Ilhy K•• H•• n nfinll Mi••k 1'1"1,.r Rnll 8urk,.

Suite 214 • Shawnee County Courthouse. Topeka, Kansas 66603.:i922 Telephone: (785) 233.8200 Ext. 43:iO • Fax: (785) 291.4909

u•• C. KIoU,. Cynthia J. LoOM« l1f'n~ J. K. MWrr Kr.nnf':th J. Morton KAt.MriM K. Murra,. Alexandra T. NRU)'en TonyW. Ru~

December I, 1997

Ms. Claudine Dombrowski PO Box 304 Lamed, Kansas _., .•.. 67550.

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Dear Ms. Domj,ro~ski

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The purposes of this letter are to acknowledge receipt of your letter and to respond to the issues you rai~cd 'within that letter. From your general tone, it appears .as if, you may be involved with son\e'sort of support group for domestic violence victims which, if true, I • ..• ., • •• could be a very constructive step. . I ' IcertaInly agree - with you that the cnmInal JustIce system is generally underdeveloped In , " its handling and broad.based understanding of domestic violence issues and dynamics. Shawnee County, however, has the Kansas model program in that we've accelerated the court hearing process, provide immediate assistance and safetY planning information for victif!ls and p~nishment\ as well as oppOrtunities for behavior inodificati6n for perpetrators. This model program is not perfect, however. But I must tell Yoll>thatmany of the problems'related to it pertain to the parties failing to abide by no contact orders. victims who tak~ the offend~r back and offenders who won't stay away from vi~tims .. ~.

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After receiving your letter last\veek: I discussed your complaints and observa~ions wi~h the two Assistant District Attom.eys who handled the the' array of cases involving you and, Hal, and I'werit th-rough-our, records Unfortunately, .,' foundnumcrous I inconsistencies ~ . between the statements you made' in your letter, the coUll records and the recollcctions of ~ the ADAs." --,. - ; -.' . , , '. ."

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Let me say at thcoutset~ihat I have no doubt whatsoever that you were iii an abusive relationship. that's quite clear. But in fairness to all parties. you;Haloand us . it isn't nearly as clear who initiated many of the conflicts which necessitated police intervention. Wc havc as many policc' rCpOrts'naming_ you as a suspect as we do with Hal as the suspect. There were several instances in which we might have charged hoth 'df you but elected to file against Hal only. " " The police report re the crowbar incident you cited states that you were the party with the crowbar when police arrived. Neither I, the attorneys nor the police have any objective

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means of detennining who did what to whom in the absence of corroborative evidence, and we must be able to prove in court the truthfulness of the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. When therc IS evidence suggesting the complaintant may have acted proactively in a violent situation as opposed to reacting defensively, it makes our job at best difficult and at times Impossible. There was also an instance in which we were able to obtain a rare prosecution without victim testimony because the victim - you - failed to appear as ordered to testify in court. Many Kansas victim advocacy groups mistakenly believe Kansas law allows for domestic violence prosecutions when victims fail to appear lor court simply because it's been done in a few other states. Unfortunately this is usually not true in Kansas, and most of the time we have to dismiss domestic violence cases if the victims fail to appear for court only to see that same victim again in a few days, weeks or months. The ADAs also remembered that you initiated contact with Halon several occasions further weakening - for court purposes - the position that you were truly frightened of him. Victim-initiated violation of a no contact order - for whatever reason - never helps us Win cases. It's been my experience that recovery from any trauma requires honest introspection and recognition of the roles each party played. Please understand that I'm not condoning anyone's criminal conduct here. Domestic violence IS a crime(s) and perpetrators should receive both punishment and an opportunity to change their abusive behavior. Ideally, repeat victims should also receive counseling to gain insight into the reasons why they rcmain with batterers, why they select batterers as partners and how to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again with the goal toward assisting the victim to seek out and develop healthy, VIOlence-free relationships. You appear to be headed in that direction, and all of us here WIshyou the very best of luck. Please call me any time if you'd like to discuss this further.

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Sincerely,

SU7.anneJames

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0ecember 16, 199'l Suz.an.'"'le .Ja;r~s

Di~ector cf Victim Se~ViLeb District Attorney Kansas Third Judicial Dist'Lct Sha~mee Cou~ty Courthouse, Ste, 214 Topeka, KS 66603-3922 Dear Ms. James: My name is Jan Doran, and I am writing to you in regards to your December 1, 1997, correspondence to Ms. Claudine Dombrowski. I am a long-tilllefriend of Claudine's and her daughter, Rikki, My friendship with Claudine predates her relationship with Mr. Richardson. As her friend, I watched with great concern the development of the relationship with Mr. Richardson. It quiCkly became clear to those of us who cared about Claudine that the relationship with Mr. Richardson WilS not healtt~ and in fact wa~ placing her vary life in qrav~ danger. As her ~riend, I attempted t.o help her any way that I could. This assistance included appearing in court even when Claudine was Imable to do so. r personally was present in February 1995, when thp. DistrIct Attorney's office was " ...able to obtain a rare prosecution without victim t.estimony .,." (Page 2 of your letter dated December 1, 1997). I was ready and willing to testify to my knowledge of the course of events that formed the basis of 95CR836. (A rev lew of this file shows that one of the special conditions of Mr. Richardson's bail ~9reement. was no contact with my person and/or home,; In February of 1995, Claudine seemed unable to break free from th~ relat.ionship with Mr. Richardson. Thl~ inability caused me great sadness, and even greater fear. Fear for Claudine and Rikki. ' could only standby and offer SUpport and a safe haven when the opportunity arose. It wasn't until February of 1996, that Claudine was finally able to escape the cycle of abuse and violence that formed the basis of the relationship with Mr. Richardson. At that time, Claudine fled to the Batte.red WOlDen's Shelter where she and Ri kki resided for about two weeks. Then Claud ine obtained a small apartment I at.ed onl three blocks from my residence. On tne evening of rc 1996 1 received at wy residence (3261 S~ RandOlph, Apt F, phone number (913)267-7823) " phone call from

Suzanne H. James
December
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1997

Claudine. Claudi ne was SObbing. nearly incoherent. She kept saying "[h]e hurt me. lie hurt me bad." She was able to convey to me that she was calling from her residence at 231 SW Brian'lOod Plaza. Apt C301. phone number (913)266-0890. I immediately went :0 Claudine's residence where I ~ound her bleeding profusely from a head wound. Her daughter Rikki appeared unharmed physically. Claudine refused to call the poli~~he further refused to aLlow to call the police for her. /llhy.J'lM'he last time C1..audinehad called the POlice tOJ; aSBist .•• ce_chn'lnq' a domestic dJtercation p wrUi Mr. Richardson~ both parties were taken into custody and Rikki was placed in the care uf Mr. Richardson's first wife, KathY-4ll"Bi...!tki (r~!.~n~~,!re of Kathy until Claudine agreed not to appear )in court to testify against Mr. Richardson. Who placed th16 ~ondition upon the return of Rikki? Mr. Richardson.

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Unable to receive Claudine's cooperation in contacting the POlice, I initiated a call to the Battered Women's Task Force. It appeared to me that Claudine neeoed immediate medical attention for her head wound. But" she would nol agree to go to the hospital unless an adV'ocate from the Battered Women' Task f'orr.e (BWTF) would lDeet her 5 at the hospital. An advocate from the BWTF agreed to Ineet us at the Emergency Roomat Stormont Vale Hospital. I also placed a call to a friend of Claudine's in Wichita, KS. I then perSonally drove Claudine to Stormont Vale Hospital Emergency Roomwhere we were met (.•. y dIl advocate ot the BWTF. At no tiJlJe were the policl;! of t;be Ci tv b ~ gf Top~ cont:acted or present af:.--.Claudine's residenc,!Lof .ZR.SJt <; Br.J~ Plaza, .Apt C301 Whi?ce!dJ.!L.inci~ent:.kOO!...21/11ce on .!Jarch f Ll.•. --liJ!fj. Tlle City of Topeka police were contacted by Stormont ~ale Hospital personnel. ~ hy Claudine or I. I and the advocdte from the BWTF were present when Claudine spoke with the City of Topeka police officer taking the report ~t Stormont Vale Hospital. I '''as also present the entire tilDe the City of Topeka pol ic"" photogra~her took photos of Claudine in the Emergency Room. Tit", only time ! ,,,as not in the presence of Claud ine was when I :OOk RikJti to the bathroom to change her diaper and when Claudine was ta.ltell ,iown to X-ray. At the advice of medical personnel, Claudine and lhkki stayed in my home that night so that r could Wi'lkt' Claudine up every 2 hours to er,sure that she did not sl ip ~nL." unconSciousness .
.>Oln your letter of DeCeJiweI'1. 1997, you state ':\'\,policc report which stated Claudine was •• crOwbar when police arrived." (Pag•• 1

you had revi~wed ~ the party with the of your l~tteI dated

Suzanne

H _ ~Jrtmes

December
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16, 1997

December 1, 1997) I find this very confusing ",S the only place thE7, -' a olice arrived to was the E~ergency Ho of Stormont Vale. When I arrive a au ne s re ence a 2 1 SW Briarwood Plaza, Apt C30l, I saw no crowbar. There was no crowbar in my vehicle which transported Claudine (and Rikki) to Stormont Vale Hospital. There was certainly no crowbar in the examining room of the Eml:!rqency Room of Stormont Vale Hospital when the pol ice arrived to take Claudine's statement. Why was there no crowbar in Claudine's apartment, my vehicle, or the Emergency Room at Stormont ~ Vale Hospital? Beca it w i th~ assess ion oT Mr. Ri~ardson : at his residence at 1717 Shawnee He~g ts Roa, e ,. The ) residence he returned to ~fter the incident at 231 SW Briarwood \ Plaza, Apt. C301 in the city of Topeka.
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What happened at 231 SW Briarwood Plaza, Apt C301 on March 23, 1996? The incident began with a series of phone contacts initiateo by Hr. Richardson to Claudine at her residence. In the course of these phone conversations, Mr. Richardson promised to deliver SOme of Claudine' 6 personal property to her residence in the city vf -Topeka. He left his residence in Tecumseh, traveled to Claudine's apartment within the city of Topeka, engaged in a verbal altercation with Claudine, then struck her in tbe bead and lett her lying in the parking lot while their infant daughter lay sleeping in the apartment upstairs. He then returned to his residence in 'l'ecumseh where. ca Iled the ~haWD_~ Co@ty Sberif_f~~ Department. An officer from the Shawnee County Sheriff's Department then arrived at Mr. Richardson' s residence in Tecumseh and took Mr. Richardson's statement. Meanwhile, Claudine crawled up the stairs to her apartment and called me at my hOIlle. J arrive<! at ber apartment, placed several phone calls to the BWTF, and a phone call to a friend in Wichita. 1 then drove Claudine and Rikki to the hospital. Hospital personnel contacted the Topeka Police Department. Only then was Claudine's statement given to an officer of ( the Topeka Police Department in the Emergency Room of Stormont Vale ' Hospital. 1rThere are two different 'police' reports tor the incident on March 23, 1996: Hal's version with the Shawnee County / Sherlff's Department, and Claudine's statement (with accompanying , photos) taken by the City of Topeka Police Department at Stormont
" Vale HospitBl.

Your letter dated December 1, 1997, further states ''In]either I, the attorneys nor the police have any objective means of deterluning who did what to whom in the absence of corroborativ •• evidence, " (Pages 1-2 of your letter dated December I, 1997) It would

Suzanne H. James December IG, 1997
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seem to me that Claudine's phone records, my phone records, ::he Dllttered Women's Task Farroe Records, Stormout Va Ie Ilosp~ tal's medi(:al records for that night on Claudine, and report and photograph5 taken by the City of Topeka Police Department should overwhelmingly contradict thE' version of events given by t1r. Richardson to the Shawnee County Sheriff DepaI-t/llentat Jus resJdence in Tecumseh. Namely, the above records should reflect, 1) Phone records of all calls initiated and reCeived from / C laudlne' s residence (91.3) 266-0890 all the evening Cot March 23, 1996, should verify that; \ al Claudine never left her residence at 231 SW Br~ar\ , wood Plaza, Apt C301 except to seek medical treat\ ment;

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Claudine never called the Topeka Police Oepartment from her residence within the city l~mits at Topeka; and c) Claudine called only me, the Battered Women's TaSK Force, and a friend in Wichita; The records of Stormont Vale Hospital should reflect. a, The time Claudine, Rikkl and myself arrived at Stormont Vale Hospital; b; The time Stormont Vale Hospital personnel contactec the City of Topeka Police Department; C) The time an officer with the Topeka Police Department arrived at the Emergency Room; d} The time a photographer from the Topeka Pollee Department arrived at the Emergency Room; e) The time an advocate from the BWTF arrived at tna Emergency Room; f) The time Claudine was taken down to X-ray, dnd g) The time Claudine left the hospital in my core; ihe records of the BWTF should reflect: a) The time and number of phone calls received !!-om myself and Claudine; bi The time an advocate was contacted and d~spat(:hed to the Emergency Room; and C; The observations of the a<1voro"tethat avelling. The records of the Topeka Police Department should reflect: a) The time the dispatCh received a Call from iIIedlC"; personnel at Stormont Vale Hospital; i:l) The time the police officer arrived at the Emerger,-cy Room; " ) The time the police officer reque,;ted a photogra ..

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Suzanne H. JaDle6 December 15, 1997 Page 5 pher be dispatched to the Emergency Roo.; 'rhe time the police officer took Claudine's statement in an examining roo•• at the Emergency Room; and e) The time the photographer arrived to take pictures of Claudine. That at the same t1me Mr. R~chardson WdS making his z:eport to an officer with the Shawnee County Sheriff Department, Claudine was already in tbe Emergency Room at Stormont Vale HOspital in the presence of myself, her infant daughter, an advocate from the BWTF, lBed1cai personnel, and an officer as well as a photographer of the City of Topeka Police Department. d)

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'. Please, for Rikki's sake, review the records of the incident that i took place on March 23, 1996. Place the Shawnee County Sheriff's \ Department Report' beside the report from the Topeka Police i Department, the photograpbs taken by the Topeka Police Department, I t:he medl.cal ['Qcords of Stormont Vale Hospital, and finally the phone records of Claudine. Then look at the testimony Mr. ! Richardson and Claudine offered at the close of trial on September ~ '.' 20th, 1997 in front of the Honorable James Buchele in 96D217. Mr. Richardson' 6 version of events Simply do not stand-up to the ~ ~ . i objective, verifiable facts contained in the lVultiple records ;:;t> ~t P'\ !j\ created that night. To put it succinctly, Mr. Richardson lied.

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\'~""';Q'"~ District Attorney's .~

than happy to once again make myself available to the office regarding IVy personal knowledge of the course of events regarding the evening of March 23, 1996. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (316)524-4277. On the behalf of Claudine and Rikki, I thank you for your attention to this matter.

I am more

Sincerely, Janice A. Voran

cc:

Claudine

Dombrowski