Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus at a CNS interview Wednesday, April 18. Photo by Doug Pratt/CNS.
LANSING -- On the eve of releasing a massive plan to reduce domestic violence, Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus declared state Sen. David Jaye should seek help for his alleged abusive tendencies.
"(Jaye's case) is a classic case of domestic violence where you have reported cases of domestic abuse, where other people have seen it, and the victim then denies it," said Posthumus, who is also the chairman of the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Task Force.
"It's a classic case that needs to be dealt with quickly. My recommendation to David Jaye is that he needs help before somebody gets hurt."
In a Capitol press conference Thursday, Posthumus said Jaye should consider resigning.
Jaye, R-Washington Township, was accused of beating his fiancˇe, Sonia Kloss, on April 12 in Florida. Since then, Kloss, 36, said she wants the charges against the Macomb County lawmaker dropped because they were "blown out of proportion."
Crisis line coordinator Theresa Cipponeri at Turning Point agrees that Jaye's alleged incident is common to abuse cases.
Turning Point is a shelter for battered women in Macomb County.
"It's typical for the women to minimize the incident," Cipponeri said. "Most women are scared of their abuser and fearful of any repercussions that reporting their husband or boyfriend might bring. It could make the perpetrator even angrier and lead to greater abuse."
Many battered women are dependent on their abuser, financially or emotionally. "The goal (of the abuser) is make the woman solely dependent on the person who battered her, so she is without any support," Cipponeri said.
However, if Kloss should decide to continue the prosecution of Jaye, she could potentially become a role model for other battered women, said Paula Cullen, director of domestic violence programs at Turning Point.
"I think it would be encouraging to other women if (Kloss) could have the strength to pursue the charges despite the stature involved," said Cullen. "It could give other women courage."
The incident marked the second time in five months that Jaye has faced accusations of assaulting Kloss.
Jaye's court appearance is scheduled for May 8 in Florida. He has denied all charges of domestic violence.
Florida police have photos of Kloss with cuts on her chin, jaw and nose, a tape of her 911-phone call to police, a witness report from Kloss' neighbor and her initial statement saying, "I want him to stop beating me."
"It doesn't matter if you're a state senator, a state House member, a farmer or a carpenter. Domestic violence is domestic violence," Posthumus said in a CNS interview.
Senate Republicans will decide next Tuesday whether to remove the senator from office or to hit him with other disciplinary measures, such as a censure.
A Florida judge ordered Jaye, 43, to attend domestic-violence counseling, avoid all contact with Kloss and post a $2,500 bond to win his release from jail.
Nicole Johnson, director of media relations at HAVEN, an Oakland County counseling center for domestic violence and sexual assault, said counseling may not always help a batterer.
"Success rates of intervention and battering classes are very difficult to assess. They are currently under evaluation at the state level," Johnson said.
In 1999, more than 100 women in Michigan were murdered as a result of domestic violence.
Posthumus unveiled the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Task Force's plan Thursday at the Capitol.
The report includes four key focus areas:
*Increase public awareness and education.
*Increase victim protections throughout judicial proceedings.
*Create uniform standards for reporting and tracking domestic violence crimes and offenders.
* Enhance domestic violence prevention training for judges and law enforcement.
"I think this could be the beginning of creating a better climate in Michigan for dealing with domestic violence," Cullen said.
Gov. John Engler called for the formation of the task force last October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to work toward eliminating homicides resulting from domestic violence.
The 13-member group heard testimony from survivors of domestic violence, shelter coordinators, court and law enforcement officials and family members of homicide victims.
The report calls for abuse in dating relations, not just marriages, to be treated as domestic-violence cases.
Posthumus also hopes the court proceedings in domestic-violence cases will be sped up.
"Frequently, the victim wants to forget about the incident, much less testify in court," Posthumus said. "As more time goes by, the less likely the victim will want to take action against the abuser."
In addition, Cullen said, judges need to check the criminal history of alleged abusers before setting bond. "The safety of victims is not taken into account."
Posthumus is optimistic about the task force's recommendations, predicting that legislation on domestic violence should pass through at least one house by June.
"There is no excuse, period, for a man to hit a woman whether they're 15 years old, 20 years old, 50 or 70 years old," Posthumus said. "That's the message we need to get across to men in this state."
© 2001, Capital News Service, Michigan State University
School of Journalism
© 2001, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism