Grudek says Huffington Post writer twisted his words
A recent article on a prominent Internet site cast Sheriff Bob Grudek in a negative light, but he told Carroll County News the author completely misrepresented his views.
In an interview last week, the sheriff said a June 16 article on the Huffington Post website described him as blaming the victims of domestic violence. He said no one who knows him would believe that.
"I've lived here 14 years, eight of those years as sheriff," Grudek said. "There should be some kind of history if I am that kind of person."
To reach those who do not know him personally, Grudek requested this interview.
"I'm disappointed that some would form an opinion based on this story," he said.
Melissa Jeltsen wrote about the murder of Laura Aceves on New Year's Eve 2012. Jeltsen said law enforcement and the judicial system failed to protect Aceves from her ex-boyfriend, Victor Acuna-Sanchez, whose abusive relationship with Aceves followed an all-too-familiar pattern.
Acuna-Sanchez is currently awaiting trial for murder, and his jury trial may proceed in October.
When Jeltsen called Grudek, he told her he couldn't comment on the Acuna-Sanchez case, but he spent nearly three hours with her on the phone and in person, discussing domestic violence.
This passage from Jeltsen's story brought Grudek instant notoriety: "The question you're asking me is what's wrong with the courts," he said. "I'm asking you, what's wrong with the women?"
The sheriff put that statement in context for Carroll County News.
"The comment that I made was not to blame women, but to ask why they go back," Grudek said, and he explained that he brought that up as part of the discussion of all the factors that contribute to the problem of domestic abuse.
"She clearly blamed law enforcement, and I said, 'You want a simple solution to a complex problem,'" the sheriff said.
He explained that "fear, finances, or forgiveness" can make a woman return to an abusive situation, regardless of the best efforts of counselors or law enforcement.
Jeltsen wrote that Grudek "shared his perspective on the problem of domestic violence, which he said he formulated by watching Dr. Phil."
The sheriff said this comment clearly demonstrates the author's bias; he mentioned Dr. Phil while talking about all the ways people try to raise awareness of this issue. Grudek said he has had personal experience with domestic abuse, from an early age. His older sister remained too long in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic, and although she eventually divorced him, "It was sad to see the black eyes and bruises," Grudek said.
The sheriff said he had received phone calls from across the country, chastising him for the comments in the article. He said once he explained his true feelings to the callers, they looked at him differently, and two women wrote emails to Jeltsen complaining about the way the article presented Grudek.
"If you really want to do something to help women, we need a shelter," he said.
Communication between judges and law enforcement needs improvement, clearly, and that was a factor in Aceves' death. Other areas of the country are developing systems to assess the danger in a particular situation, so that judges can set an appropriate bond.
Although Carroll County does not have a shelter, Grudek said victims of domestic abuse are treated "with utmost respect and sensitivity" here.