Abuse of Power: Ron Bateman Should Not Be Sheriff

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Ron Bateman at the July 4 Parade in 2017 in Severna Park. Photo: APat

On the evening of April 10, 2016, police officers were called to Anne Arundel County Sheriff Ron Bateman’s home by his wife, Elsie Bateman. A domestic dispute had allegedly turned violent, and Elsie had been injured.  The Washington Post detailed the police reporting of the incident. According to those reports, our county sheriff allegedly threw his wife into a wall and hit the left side of her face and mouth. Officers observed that her cheek and lower lip were swollen, and that blood vessels in her left eye had burst.

Ron Bateman is currently serving his third term as sheriff and is running for reelection in 2018.

According to a Washington Post story dated April 21, 2016, Police said that Elsie Bateman said that because she needed money to leave the house, she tried to reach for Ron’s bill clip—it was then that the violence began. Elsie decided not to move forward with charges or a protective order and recanted her statements; I believe she did this only because she feared further repercussions.

WTOP News reported that Elsie sent a lengthy email apologizing for her own behavior, stating: “I do wish to stress the fact that Ron has never, ever touched me in a hurtful way ever.” In a Facebook post, she downgraded the incident to a spousal argument.

Official records and observations show otherwise.

In Maryland, prosecutors are able to pursue a domestic violence case without the survivor’s cooperation by using evidence gathered at the scene. The Capital reported that under the state constitution, an elected official can be removed from office if convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor related to his or her official duties. Neither of these conditions applied to Sheriff Bateman’s case. However, he assigned himself administrative leave and was stripped of his guns. By July 2016 he had been acquitted of the charges after a prosecutor declined to present evidence and his wife invoked her right not to testify against a spouse.

According to the National Center for Women and Policing: “Two studies [Johnson 1991, Neidig and Russell 1992] have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10 percent of families in the general population.” Most studies are from the 1990s. Updated research remains scant. It should trouble Anne Arundel County citizens that someone who calls for police help after (or during) an incidence of domestic violence may very well be calling an abuser. The incident between Ron and Elsie Bateman cries out for greater scrutiny.

In 2015, 15,301 domestic violence crimes were reported statewide. In 2016, 46 Marylanders lost their lives to domestic violence; 31 one of those were shootings.

County Councilman John Grasso has referred to Bateman as a “great man,” while others have been quoted as calling him a “good guy.” If we’ve learned anything from the #MeToo movement, it’s that well-respected men in powerful positions have been abusing women for decades and getting away with it.

Sheriff Ron Bateman allegedly assaulted his wife on April 10, 2016, the legal outcome notwithstanding. One of the duties of the county sheriff’s office is to serve court papers, including protective orders for survivors of domestic violence. It is up to us as voters to decide if we believe the survivors. We must seek to elect politicians who can effectively protect anyone who has been affected by domestic violence. Voters can choose from among three other Republican candidates for Anne Arundel County sheriff: Beth Smith, Damon Ostis, and Jim Fredericks, and one Democratic candidate, James Williams.

Amy Woodrum is a concerned citizen of Anne Arundel County.

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