Saturday, March 30, 2002

Victim's father struggles to cope with stabbing

Wants officials to be firm about family violence

By Jim Hannah,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPRINGFIELD TWP. — The father of Cheryl Denise Dawson, who was stabbed to death Monday in downtown Cincinnati — allegedly by her estranged husband — spoke out Friday.

        “It breaks you down,” Walter Mainer said from his home. “It was a nightmare.”

    A fund has been established for the Dawson children. Contributions can be made to the Dawson Children's Trust Fund at any branch of the Fifth Third Bank in Greater Cincinnati.
        Mr. Mainer said Kentucky and Ohio did not coordinate their efforts in protecting his daughter. Mrs. Dawson lived in Hebron but worked in downtown Cincinnati.

        “Because it was just domestic violence, it wasn't taken seriously,” Mr. Mainer said. “They assume it will all go away.” Police say Robin Scott Dawson, 40, of Newport fatally stabbed Mrs. Dawson, 37, Monday. He is being held in Hamilton County.

Court orders didn't help
        Mr. Dawson had threatened his wife for two years, Mr. Mainer said, and Mrs. Dawson had done everything within the law to protect herself. She repeatedly went to Boone County Family Court for help, including getting a judge to order Mr. Dawson to stay 1,000 feet away from her.

        He said when Kentucky finally did get his son-in-law into court on charges of violating the domestic violence order, a judge didn't do enough. On Feb. 2, a district court judge released Mr. Dawson into his brother's custody.

        “Punishment for domestic violence has to be more severe,” Mr. Mainer said.

        A native of Cincinnati, Mr. Mainer moved his family to Detroit after Mrs. Dawson was born. His daughter studied chemical engineering at Wayne State University.

        The Dawsons married nine years ago. The Mainer family had known Mr. Dawson since he was 11.

        “He was one of the nicest people you would find,” Mr. Mainer said. “He was stable and completed two years of college. But he lost control at some point.”

        Trouble started, family members say, when Mr. Dawson's mother died.

        “He became somewhat of a different person and began losing jobs and abusing different chemicals,” Mr. Mainer said. “Cheryl wasn't sure if it was just alcohol or alcohol and drugs.”

        The Mainer family didn't tell Mrs. Dawson's children — Erik, 7; Halley, 5; and Nicholas, 3 — about her death until Wednesday.

        “We all were together,” Mr. Mainer said. “We all merged and held them and told them what happened. Of course the older two just cried and the younger one ... still doesn't understand.”

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