Saturday, July 29, 2000

UC's Grove: Woman beater or innocent victim?




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        B.J. Grove is free and clear. The case against him has been dismissed. His basketball eligibility has been restored.

        On the surface, at least, the allegation of domestic violence against a pregnant girlfriend has left no mark on the University of Cincinnati's sophomore center. Christine Kinley invoked the Fifth Amendment on Tuesday rather than repeat her charges in open court.

        No harm, no foul. Or something like that.

        Exactly what transpired between Grove and Kinley on the evening of June 8 is known by exactly two people: Grove and Kinley. What transpired Tuesday before Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Mark Schweikert was another installment in society's daily dissembling about domestic violence.

        “It's almost a textbook example of how these cases can unravel if the victims don't cooperate,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Michael Allen said Friday. “It's frustrating.”

What was her story?
        In her 911 call, Kinley said, “My boyfriend just came and tore my house up and hit on me and took my son.”

        In her written statement to police, Kinley says Grove, “threw me against the wall ... smacked me in the face, pulled my hair, threw heavy objects at my face.”

        But Kinley was twice a no-show for scheduled appearances before a grand jury. Testifying Tuesday, she refused to confirm any details beyond her name and address out of concern for self-incrimination.

        She has left us to draw our own conclusions and speculate on her motives. She has left us to view Grove as either the victim of a vicious lie or as a rogue who beat a rap because of insufficient evidence.

        Where's the justice in that?

        If Grove did what Kinley alleged — striking a woman then nine months' pregnant — he is beneath contempt. If Kinley fabricated the story, she has ruined his reputation with a false police report. One of them probably ought to be punished.

        “I don't know that much about this case, specifically,” said Ann McDonald, executive director of Women Helping Women. “But in terms of what we hear from victims, they're (often) afraid to talk about the violence because they're afraid it will get worse. Sometimes, they're real loyal because they still love the person and they don't want to get them in trouble.”

UC has straight-up rules
        Because we're not likely to reach the bottom of this, we are obliged to accept the surface view. The policy of the UC athletic deparment is that an athlete charged with a violent crime is automatically suspended pending resolution of the charges. If the charges don't stick, the athlete is reinstated.

        “It's a pretty cut-and-dried policy,” UC spokesman Brian McCann said. “We're not in a position to dispute what the judge has said.”

        A university's position in these matters can be awkward. While one hand weighs an athlete's presumption of innocence, the other must assess the image problem.

        UC Athletic Director Bob Goin chose not to be interviewed for this story, but his actions bespeak concern. He has toughened departmental sanctions for criminal behavior and has encouraged awareness by staging domestic violence seminars.

        “We're not just oblivious to what happens in the world,” McCann said.

        Neither, however, are UC officials omniscient. If you can't say for sure what Grove did, there's not much you can do about it.

        Tim Sullivan welcomes your email at tsullivan@enquirer.com.



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