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Editorial Roundup: Kansas


Kansas City Star. October 26, 2023.

Editorial: We expect zero tolerance from the Chiefs on domestic violence. You should, too

This week, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross was accused of serious crimes, according to the Johnson County district attorney.

Allegations that the second-year pro from Clemson physically assaulted his ex-girlfriend and damaged her property are extremely concerning.

District Attorney Steve Howe’s office accuses Ross of dragging the alleged victim through Ross’ Shawnee apartment, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, Ross pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges. He was released from custody after posting a $2,500 bond. His next court date is Dec. 4.

On Wednesday, head coach Andy Reid told reporters Ross would practice with the team in preparation for Sunday’s game against Denver.

Based on the seriousness of the charges against Ross, we don’t believe he should play. Ultimately, the Chiefs will make that call on game day.

But instituting a zero tolerance policy for domestic violence would send a strong message here.

As with any criminal proceeding, Ross is entitled to due process. But allowing him to practice sends the wrong message to the alleged victim in this case — and does a disservice to other battered women.

Pro athletes facing criminal charges of violence against women need not suit up until their cases are adjudicated in a court of law.

Ross, 23, is a talented young receiver with a potentially bright future on the field. Away from the game, Ross must use this time to take advantage of every resource the Chiefs may provide.

Mental health screenings, anger management counseling and other potential remedies must be taken.

As of this week, Chiefs management hadn’t publicly commented on the incident, a potential public relations misstep we have to question. We want to know where team president Mark Donovan and CEO Clark Hunt stand on this serious issue.

A team spokesman referred us to comments Reid made to reporters earlier Wednesday.

According to the organization’s tepid response, there’s apparently nothing to see here. Two days after Ross was arrested Monday, he was back on the practice field, according to Reid.

Our take: The least team officials could do without impeding the criminal case against Ross is to denounce domestic violence in all forms — and forcefully. The Chiefs have a special obligation to the Kansas City community. This is not a “no comment” moment.

The alleged victim in this case — and all other battered women — deserve support from all segments of society, including from the Chiefs’ upper management.

Why hasn’t team denounced violence against women?

It’s not lost on us that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Maybe the Chiefs forgot. We didn’t.

On Monday, a police dispatcher stated the alleged victim said Ross was “dragging her through the house and has torn up the house,” according to audio from radio traffic we listened to on Broadcastify.com.

In Johnson County alone, data from the county’s only domestic violence shelter suggests these types of incidents are on the rise.

Over the last year, Safehome women’s shelter reported a 71% increase in protective orders. Calls to the organization’s hotline were up 68%, Safehome reports.

The legal process will determine whether Ross is guilty of committing a crime. Under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, the league will investigate and have its say, too.

But what about the hometown Chiefs? Why hasn’t the team come out to denounce all acts of violence committed against women?

We remember how other domestic violence incidents involving former Chiefs Jovan Belcher, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and others played out without much tangible action taken by the team.

In 2012, Belcher fatally shot girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before taking his own life at the team’s practice facility next to Arrowhead Stadium.

In 2018, Hunt was kept on the team despite suspicion of domestic assault. Only after video footage from TMZ surfaced months later of the running back kicking and shoving a woman was he cut from the team.

Before being traded to Miami in March 2022, Hill faced accusations of abusing his child while playing in Kansas City. While in college, Hill pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation. The Chiefs drafted Hill despite his checkered past.

Last season, linebacker Willie Gay received a four-game suspension by the NFL after his guilty plea in connection with an altercation with a girlfriend.

With each of these cases, a clear pattern emerged: The Chiefs are willing to give talented football players second and third chances despite off-the-field transgressions.

We have qualms with that approach. But the most pressing issue is the team’s lack of advocacy for battered women.

We expect more. You should, too.


Topeka Capital-Journal. October 27, 2023.

Editorial: Abuse of inmate at Topeka Correctional Facility begs question: Was it a ‘temporary lapse’?

Alleged abuse of a female inmate at Topeka Correctional Facility has us concerned.

The Capital-Journal’s Tim Hrenchir reports the Kansas Department of Corrections has terminated two employees and disciplined six others for their conduct related to the alleged Sept. 7 abuse of a female inmate at Topeka Correctional Facility.

Hrenchir reports authorities haven’t made the inmate’s name public. She fell and was forced by officers to roll down a sidewalk, the post said, adding that she remained hospitalized seven days later with broken bones.

“It has been determined that staff performed in a manner that is unacceptable, violated agency policy and procedures and was not in keeping with the values of the organization,” said David Thompson, the department’s public information officer.

This is not a good look for the Department of Corrections or the state of Kansas. No one — no matter their circumstances — deserves to be abused or mistreated. Let alone be forced to roll down a sidewalk with broken bones.

That’s humiliating and traumatic. It’s also unacceptable.

Whoever this inmate is, we hope she’s recovered properly.

How we treat our most vulnerable populations, including the imprisoned, sends a message to the rest of the world about who we are as a state.

While it’s good two people were fired, we hope Thompson is correct on the “temporary lapse in judgment” for the six employees merely disciplined. A little more transparency on what those individuals did and didn’t do might have eased our concerns a bit.

Was this as simple as seeing something and not immediately speaking up or were these six more than witnesses of the alleged abuse? What kind of discipline was implemented? A slap on the wrist likely won’t fix anything.

Those details would be good to know. Some might argue it’s critical for the public to know.

Were employees bullied into not speaking up? What about other inmates? Is this a larger cultural issue at the Topeka Correctional Facility and other Department of Corrections sites? The department should account for these inquiries.

The department has also said it is implementing training for all staff aimed at ensuring employees feel empowered to challenge and report any order they think is illegal, immoral or unethical, including those from superior officers. This is good to hear and we hope that training stays with the staff so future incidents might be mitigated.

Until the department is willing to be a bit more forthcoming we’ll be left to wonder with concern.