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Saturday, December 29, 2012


* "Donna Kristofak was terrified and letting the court know it.  John S. Kristofak, who was her husband for 19 years, had been arrested when he chased her in a Wal-Mart parking lot. In his car were a butcher’s knife and what police called “a suicide note.”
Six months later, in a court hearing  held on Oct. 12, Mrs. Kristofak begged a Cobb County judge not to release him from jail. “I fear for my life,” she told Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs, telling the judge that a court-issued order of protection would not stop her crazed ex-spouse.
Early Thursday, fugitive squads arrested John Kristofak, 58, after a short struggle at a Motel 6 in Union City, ending a publicized five-day manhunt. He was charged with doing exactly what he’d promised earlier this year: murder.
The worst had happened.  Late Saturday morning, John Kristofak allegedly entered the garage of his 48-year-old ex-wife’s East Cobb home and stabbed her once in the upper torso, according to a warrant. She died later at a hospital.
So why didn't the Judge listen to Donna Kristofak who predicted her ex husband would kill her if the Judge released him from jail? 
Mr. Kristofak had a history of being violent and threatening towards his ex wife.  Apparently, they were divorced in August 2011 and circumstances were sufficient to justify the imposition of a restraining order one month later. 
Then in March the following year, he started harassing his ex-wife, according to court documents, repeatedly calling her workplace using “vile, vulgar language to her and her coworkers.”

He allegedly sent an e-mail March 19 saying, “You are in danger — protect yourself. No one can help you at this point. You won’t know where it is coming from.”
Then another, “I warned you never cut me off from my children. You did and you will pay, ” according to an arrest warrant from March. “I am not living past tonight so I will do anything to get you back.”
On March 26, he erected posters in front of her house accusing her of “vile, vulgar sexual things,” a warrant states. One of their teen-aged sons found the posters.
Three days later, he was arrested at the Wal-Mart parking lot as she “frantically called for help.”

Kristofak remained in jail until October, when he cut a plea deal with the court that would sentence him to seven months in jail and have him serve the rest of the 5-year term on probation.
According to the transcript of the guilty plea Oct. 12, Donna Kristofak told the judge: “I definitely want a permanent order of no contact. May I also say that a protective order existed the night of the arrest and I do not feel that will necessarily bring safety.”
Judge Grubbs: “I understand that. It’s a little different with a TPO and filing a protective order. … If he violates the order in this case he gets picked up by the probation violation and put in jail immediately.”
Mrs. Kristofak: “Yes, your honor, I respect that and thank you for that. My fear is that I may not survive that …”
“I understand,” the judge said, cutting in.
“… I fear for my life,” Mrs. Kristofak continued.
“I can’t tell you with 100 percent, I’d be lying to you and I am sorry you are in that position,” said the judge, sounding sympathetic. “But whatever I do, you can go out and, you’ve got that risk but you will have that … copy of the protective order so the minute you get nervous about anything you call the police. … It’s as close as we can get to 100 percent.”
“Thank you, your honor,” Mrs. Kristofak said. “May I ask, your honor, that it is on the record that I fear for my life?”
“It is on the record,” said Judge Grubbs, who then threatened John Kristofak, saying she would send him to prison in an instant if he ever came near his ex-wife or tried to contact her.
So why didn't Judge Adele Grubbs keep John Kristofak in jail longer?  Why wasn't every possible step taken to prevent him from killing his ex wife?  Perhaps the answer is in Grubbs response to the case.
Grubbs, who has sat on the bench for 16 years, said the domestic violence cases that worry her the most are the ones where a woman tells the court that her husband didn’t mean to threaten her and she wants him back.
In other words, if you know your ex husband is violent and state you are afraid of him, you are not truly in danger.  However, if you say your ex is not violent and "didn't mean to threaten you", and that you "want him back" then you actually are in danger. 

Does that make any kind of sense to you?  Sorry if it doesn't, because that is exactly what attorneys and judges think.
If you as a woman litigant actually know what you have experienced, know who you are and what you think about what you have experienced, and then articulate your thoughts, you must be either misguided, wrong or exaggerating. 
But if you are too immature and/or beaten down to the point where you are incapable of making the right choices, or stating what you think and feel, then we should conclude your circumstances are dire. 
Likewise, in family court, and in the AMC/GAL training, attorneys are informed that if a mother states outright that she has been abused, then she must be inventing it.  However, if she is ashamed to talk about abuse, or refuses to discuss it, presumably because she lacks maturity or understanding to do so, then she probably was abused.
Talking about being caught in a Kafkaesque trap!
Why is Donna Kristofak dead right now?  Because she knew what she had experienced and she was smart enough to talk about it.
Jean Douglas, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, said her organization assists in seeking more than 1,000 temporary protection orders each year in DeKalb County.
Douglas said the fact that Mr. Kristofak had a knife and suicide note when arrested in March was “a huge red flag.”
“Every one of these cases is excruciating; the victim called it right here,” she said. “She did incredibly well. She articulated exactly what he would do. . .”
And that is the problem.  As a reasonably intelligent, insightful woman, Donna Kristofak was aware enough to speak clearly and concisely to the Court about the problem.  And, from what I can see, it was just this clarity and ability to speak up about the problem that convinced the judge that there was no need to protect her.
The conclusion I draw from this woman's story is crazymaking to all of us, but it is a fact.  Had Donna Kristofak been stupid and clueless, my best guess is, she'd be alive today.
*The facts of the Kristofak case are loosely based on an article from The Atlanta Journal


1 comment:

  1. Victims of Domestic Violence who report it to authorities are victimized further by the "system" see for yourself
    As of 3/7/13 I now have SUPERVISED VISITATION, so much for "justice"
    Spread the word, hit the SHARE button