Unnecessary Roughness

A Denver Bronco's domestic-violence case gets complicated.

Denver Bronco wide receiver Rod Smith is asking that a domestic-violence assault charge be dropped because Douglas County prosecutors tried to bribe the victim -- his common-law wife, Jami Mourglia -- into testifying against him. Smith and Mourglia also claim that the prosecutors and/or the Parker Police Department's victim's advocate office "lost" portions of Mourglia's statement because it contained information that indicated she'd lied about the initial incident.

In addition, one of the victim's advocates expected to testify against Smith was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree assault and domestic violence following an argument with her husband.

Cris Campbell, Smith's attorney, charges that the Douglas County District Attorney's Office is trying to build its reputation by going after high-profile athletes.

Jay Vollmar

"Whether you're wealthy or poor, if you've broken the law in our jurisdiction and we can make a case that is provable beyond a reasonable doubt, we will [prosecute]," responds Mike Knight, spokesman for the Douglas County DA's office. "No one here is out to make a name for themselves as a prosecutor."

In a mid-January call to police, Mourglia claimed that her boyfriend "beat my ass— banged my head against the floor—and choked me." She initially refused to identify herself, saying that her assailant was "a celebrity" and she didn't want their children put through a media "circus." Another unidentified woman later informed police that Mourglia was the caller.

Smith was out of town at a charity event when police interviewed Mourglia, who had been living with him since September 1995. The officers noted that she had red marks and bruises on her face. The couple had been experiencing "marital difficulties," according to the officers' report, and an argument broke out over who would get custody of their sons, ages five and seven, in the event of a split. "Mr. Smith stood up and grabbed Jami by the collar with one hand and by the throat with the other," states the report. Smith then dragged her by her hair into the kitchen, banged her head on the floor several times and hit her in the face, she told police; eventually, she went upstairs and locked herself in the bathroom, at which point Smith left.

But the day after her January 20 interview, Mourglia asked authorities not to charge Smith. Instead, she says, Autumn Black of the Parker victim's advocate office requested that she see a therapist who treats battered women. "I was told that there would not be any charge for at least three visits and probably no charge for additional visits," Mourglia testified in an affidavit recently filed with the court by Campbell. Mourglia agreed to meet with a therapist but says she filled out a form "stating that the charges against Roderick Smith are untrue" and gave it to Maria Schrock, another victim's advocate.

The Douglas County DA's office pressed charges anyway and arrested Smith on January 24. "It's not uncommon for a witness to want to recant after things have calmed down," Knight said at the time. "There's a belief that for the protection of these people, we still have to go forward with a case if we have the evidence to prove it."

In the meantime, though, a temporary restraining order prohibiting Smith from having contact with Mourglia or their children was lifted at Mourglia's request.

In February and March, Mourglia met with therapist Sandra Tosiou, who also told her that she would not be charged for the therapy sessions, Mourglia claims. But then on April 6, Tosiou called Mourglia and told her that the Douglas County Victim Compensation Board wouldn't pay for any therapy sessions beyond the first three, which were guaranteed by the board's rules. By then, Mourglia had seen Tosiou at least six times; according to Mourglia's affidavit, the therapist told her she'd waive the charge for the additional sessions.

Mourglia says the board cut her compensation "because I was not cooperating.'" (Tosiou did not return Westword's calls.) On April 20, Mourglia received a letter signed by Denise Piker-Gordon, an assistant with the Victim Compensation Board, stating that her "claim" was being denied "due to a lack of cooperation." Her therapist would receive $225 from the board for the first three sessions, but that left an outstanding balance of $487.50.

Four days later, Mourglia says she received a letter from Tosiou asking her to call. The therapist wanted to know how Mourglia was doing -- and requested the balance of her bill.

Mourglia never made a "claim" to the Victim Compensation Board, Campbell points out in his pleadings: "She was simply told that [the victim's advocate office] would pay for her to see a therapist." And after she did, she was confused by the accusation that she was not cooperating. "The only way I have not cooperated with [the victim's advocate office] is by telling them, and Ms. Tosiou, that I am not a victim and that Rod is not a perpetrator," Mourglia stated in her affidavit.

The compensation board referred questions to Knight, who says that the use of the word "cooperation" did not imply that Mourglia was being asked to say what prosecutors wanted her to say. "It means that she would have to testify truthfully in this matter," he says.

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