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Domestic violence is a prevalent crime here in Colorado and across the United States, and law enforcement officials take domestic violence allegations extremely seriously.
One woman, however, is accusing the University of Colorado of not taking her domestic violence claim seriously. Instead, she says that CU not only knew about the abuse but also tried significantly to cover it up. For that reason, the woman has filed a notice of claim ahead of a potential lawsuit against CU.
The woman, whose name has been redacted by CU, claims that she was the victim of domestic violence by Joe Tumpkin, a former university assistant football coach.
The abuse took place from February 2015 to January 2017 in university-provided boarding during CU-sponsored trips as well as on CU property, and included verbal abuse via a CU-provided cellphone.
She claims she suffered many physical injuries from Tumpkin, including contusions, stitches, scratches, neck injuries as a result of strangulation attempts, and even a dental implant removal, which left her with a missing tooth for over three months. She also says she has psychological trauma due to the abuse and “as a result of the lack of supervision and care by university personnel.”
According to her, multiple people – including other CU employees and supervisors – were aware the abuse was going on, but they did not report the incidences as they are required to. Additionally, the woman claims Tumpkin had an alcohol problem – which the university knew about, including an instance of drunk driving, and did not properly report – aggravating the abuse.
Also, the woman supposedly made multiple attempts to report the abuse herself to head football coach Mike MacIntyre. At the beginning of December, the woman says she emailed MacIntyre in hopes of discussing “a very confidential matter” over the phone.
Peter R. Ginsberg, the woman’s attorney, says that MacIntyre’s assistant deleted the email because not only did she have access to MacIntyre’s email account – she also had a “personal relationship” with Tumpkin.
If that wasn’t enough, the woman contacted MacIntyre’s wife via Facebook, and when MacIntyre did call her, she disclosed the abuse and her fears for another woman. MacIntyre supposedly said he would address the situation and discussed it with the athletic director, but afterwards, he blocked the woman’s calls and didn’t end up reporting the abuse.
Along with the pending lawsuit against the university, Tumpkin, who was forced to resign from his CU coaching position, is still under investigation for criminal domestic violence charges in Broomfield.
In order to understand the situation that the woman, Tumpkin, and CU are in, we first need to understand what constitutes a domestic violence charge here in Colorado.
The main thing to understand is that domestic violence occurs between people involved in an intimate relationship.
What is an “intimate relationship”?
The definition of an intimate relationship, according to the Colorado Domestic Violence Statute, is “a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.”
The woman in the CU case was a former girlfriend of Tumpkin, and therefore, their relationship would qualify as an intimate relationship, which makes the alleged abuse domestic violence.
If you are a health care professional, law enforcement official or personnel, a financial institution employee, or other similar employee, you are required to report abuse.
Where do university employees fit in?
Being a university employee doesn’t necessarily mean you have to automatically report abuse, but every institution is different and requires different things from its faculty and staff. If the university had its employees sign something mandating that they report abuse and they did not, they can be held liable. If, however, nothing along those lines is in the university’s policies, that doesn’t necessarily absolve them. In fact, the situation can get more complicated.
Responding to the case, the CU Board of Regents conducted an investigation and issued a statement saying they would “outline any necessary changes to university policies and procedures, specify how training and education will be enhanced, and recommend appropriate action for CU employees involved.”
The specifics of this report will not be released to the public due to personnel and legal issues, but a public report will eventually be released.
The main takeaway from this story is that domestic violence is a serious crime that should be taken seriously. If you are accused of domestic violence, it is vital that you fight for your rights and defend your good name. However, other people and organizations need to understand that they, too, can face legal ramifications if they are made aware of domestic violence and do nothing or – worse – actively try to hide it.
Regardless of your situation, consulting with a knowledge Colorado domestic violence attorney with proven results can help to answer your questions and determine how you should proceed.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.