By Julie DiCaro–
(CBS) Last November, two women at a hotel in Sandusky, Ohio were alarmed enough by what they heard from the adjoining room that they banged on the door and demanded to be let in. The man who opened the door was Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, according to what the women told police. Behind him, on the floor, lay his then-girlfriend, Diamond Hunt, partially naked and seemingly unconscious.
From the Seattle Times:
The police report describing the incident quotes Diamond Hurt, then 20, saying Clark punched her in the face. Hurt’s younger brothers are quoted saying the same thing.
When Babson and Colie found her, Hurt “was just laying there,’’ Babson said. “She looked like she was unconscious to me.“The kids were saying, ‘He killed my sister!’ ’’
Colie added that Hurt “was on the ground, curled up and holding her head and stuff.’’
Both women gave written statements to police via email the following day. But they say they never heard back from anybody about the case until The Seattle Times contacted them on Monday.
The incident report filed by the police included photographs, which reportedly showed red welts on Hurt’s neck and face, along with a rug burn on her hip. In addition to the screaming, yelling and banging overheard by the two women next door, both Hurt and her two younger brothers told the police that Clark grabbed her around the neck and punched her in the face.
A necklace Hurt had been wearing was found broken on the floor. The hotel manager, who eventually made his way to Clark’s room, said that Hurt was so incoherent when he first found her, he thought she had been drinking. In order to verify her sobriety, the police administered a breathalyzer test to Hurt. She blew a .000.
Hurt told the police she didn’t want Clark arrested “with everything he has going on.” Despite the police pointing out the severity of her injuries, Hurt also refused medical attention. Clark told the police Hurt got her injuries “by falling.” The report mentions that Clark admitted to drinking and had “a strong odor of alcohol emanating from his breath.” The report doesn’t make mention of any injuries to Clark.
For her part, Hurt told police that she threw a remote at Clark, bit his nose and threw an alarm clock at him. Clark weighs around 273 pounds and hits people for a living. Do Hurt’s actions justify Clark’s? Some people will undoubtedly say “yes.”
Disturbingly, one of those people is Sandusky municipal prosecutor Lynne Gast-King, who reduced Clark’s charges from first-degree misdemeanor felony assault to fourth-degree disorderly conduct. On Wednesday, Gast-King cavalierly declared that Clark wasn’t a batterer and that she didn’t believe he punched Hurt, contrary to the testimony of three witnesses to the alleged beating, two women who happened upon the aftermath of the alleged attack and the clear conclusion reached by the police who did the initial investigation.
Gast-King admitted the only parties she spoke to in the case were Clark, Hurt and Hurt’s mother. That means Gast-King didn’t speak to five individuals who either witnessed the batter itself or the immediate aftermath.
A look at the City of Sandusky’s website reveals that the city’s law department employs a single prosecutor, Gast-King, and a secretary. There’s little evidence from Gast-King’s comments that she’s had any kind of training in domestic violence cases, and she certainly seems to have little understanding of the psychological dynamics between the parties.
Gast-King said “Perkins police did a wonderful job” with their interviews, photos and report. But after interviewing Clark and Hurt later on, she decided: “The police did everything exactly right, but I’m trying to be delicate because I don’t want to involve Diamond (Hurt) too much in this. Let’s just say she can take care of herself.’’
Certainly, winding up knocked out to the point of incoherence indicates that Hurt did a bang-up job taking care of herself when confronted by a 273-pound defensive lineman. Domestic violence training 101 teaches advocates that, more often than not, abusers minimize their role an incident, while victims exaggerate their roles and attempt to take the blame. Both parties usually urge prosecutors to drop the case.
Apparently, Gast-King missed class that day of class.
The Seattle Seahawks, no doubt emboldened by Gast-King’s decision to reduce Clark’s sentence to a non-violent charge, drafted Clark with their second-round pick in last weekend’s NFL draft. Despite the Seahawks’ claims that the team “investigated the matter thoroughly,” the team never spoke to anyone involved in the incident other than Clark, including the victim herself.
The Sandusky hotel manager expressed shock that the Seahawks never asked what she saw that night. From the Seattle Times:
If they had, she said, she knows exactly what she’d have told them: “That he beat her up.”
It doesn’t take an intellectual giant to look at the police report, read the witnesses statements and figure out what happened in that Sandusky hotel room. Yet here we find ourselves again, with an uncooperative victim, a personable pro athlete (Gast-King goes out of her way to talk about how “charming” she found Clark) and an NFL team more than willing to “investigate thoroughly” — but only the side of the story the front office wants to hear.
The Seahawks’ declaration that they are confident that Clark didn’t batter Hurt isn’t only self-serving and ignorant, but intellectually dishonest. What’s more, it serves to reinforce the pervasive belief, last used by boxer Floyd Mayweather, that a battery without a videotape is no battery at all, despite the testimony of multiple witnesses. And people wonder why victims are reluctant to report abuse.
Thanks to Gast-King’s lack of understanding of domestic violence and the Seahawks’ willingness to ignore the basic facts of the case, the City of Seattle has gained not only a defensive end but a potential abuser who now has all the resources of an NFL franchise at his disposal, not the last of which is the financial ability to hire enough lawyers to convince any future victims that coming forward isn’t in their best interest (see: the Greg Hardy case).
“As someone who watched the Ray Rice situation in horror, I don’t think this is what you’re going to see from Frank Clark,” Gast-King told the Seattle Times.
“I don’t think he’s a danger to this particular lady or to other women. And I hope I’m not wrong.”
So do the rest of us.