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Ex-CU Coach's Victim: Don't Slap His Wrist for Assaulting Me 100 Times

Pam Fine's petition about a potential Joe Tumpkin plea deal is illustrated with his booking photo.
Pam Fine's petition about a potential Joe Tumpkin plea deal is illustrated with his booking photo.
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Pam Fine, who filed a lawsuit last year over abuse allegedly suffered at the hands of former University of Colorado Boulder assistant football coach Joe Tumpkin, has launched a Change.org petition decrying the possibility that he will be offered a misdemeanor plea deal that she characterizes as a wrist slap.

In an excerpt from the petition, Fine writes, "I was assaulted over 100 times by former PAC 12 football coach, Joe Tumpkin, so why is Colorado’s 17th District Attorney’s office refusing to hold him accountable for the charges they gave him?"

Attorney Peter Ginsberg, who represents Fine in her lawsuit, elaborates on this question and its reference to 17th Judicial District DA Dave Young, who isn't commenting on the matter.

"We're very concerned about the prosecutor and the way the prosecutor has evaluated an appropriate resolution," says Ginsberg, speaking from Minneapolis. "Unfortunately, Pam realized early on, and increasingly so, that the district attorney's office was not prioritizing either her privacy or the abuse she had suffered. As a result, Pam has decided to exercise her right to do what she can to hopefully reach an appropriate resolution to the case."

In early 2017, Tumpkin was charged with five felony second-degree-assault counts and three misdemeanor third-degree-assault beefs. Then, that September, Fine sued Tumpkin, as well as CU head football coach Mike MacIntyre, athletic director Rick George, chancellor Phil DiStefano and president Bruce Benson (who has announced that he will retire from the position in 2019).

As Ginsberg told us last year, Fine "went back and forth for quite a while" regarding the decision to sue under her own name. "But ultimately, Pam decided she didn't want to be intimidated any longer, and she felt that she could better serve as a role model by taking a strong and, I think, quite brave stand."

Joe Tumpkin during his time coaching at Central Michigan, prior to his hiring by CU Boulder.
Joe Tumpkin during his time coaching at Central Michigan, prior to his hiring by CU Boulder.
YouTube file photo

The suit makes plenty of powerful statements, too. Not only does it castigate Tumpkin for his behavior, but it holds MacIntyre and company responsible for bungling the matter in ways that mirror past mistakes made by CU Boulder, as outlined in a section titled "The University’s History of Mishandling Sex-Based Harassment and Assault."

CU essentially acknowledged errors in the latest case circa June 2017, when DiStefano was suspended for ten days and both MacIntyre, to whom Fine first reached out, and George were ordered to make $100,000 donations to a domestic-violence fund. But in July, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez ordered that the university and its employees be dropped from the suit, though he was also highly critical of their collective actions.

Meanwhile, Tumpkin's criminal case continued its slow movement through the system. But according to a new report in the Boulder Daily Camera, emails between Fine and Young's office indicate that the ex-coach "has been offered a plea deal that requires [that] Tumpkin only plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of third-degree assault."

Shortly thereafter, Fine started the petition. "She has shown enormous strength and fortitude throughout this process," Ginsberg notes, "and I'm sure she took this decision deliberately and seriously, and she's passionate about it, for good reason."

When asked if Fine believes the plea deal may have been affected by the general mishandling of domestic-violence offenses over time or the powerful role CU plays in the community, Ginsberg replies, "I think it's a combination of both. Clearly, nationwide, victims have historically not received appropriate relief from the justice system, and I think in this case in particular, the district attorney seems not to have pursued the case vigorously. The office has certainly not acted efficiently or effectively. But we have also been concerned throughout that the University of Colorado's influence has impacted the manner in which the prosecutors have gone about this case."

A preliminary hearing has been set for December 12, but, Ginsberg says, "I'm not sure that hearing will be held. In fact, I think it's extraordinary that the hearing hasn't happened yet. But I expect that the prosecutor is moving toward a resolution, and that's what precipitated Pam's decision to circulate the petition."

He adds, "The petition is Pam's — and I'm sure she hopes the message is sent to the prosecutor, and that he hears the message."

At this writing, the petition has collected more than 1,300 signatures toward a goal of 1,500. Continue to read it, as well as to access the lawsuit and the restraining order.

Joe Tumpkin's official CU Buffs portrait.
Joe Tumpkin's official CU Buffs portrait.

Joe Tumpkin strangled me over 100 times. Sign to stop the DA’s slap-on-the-wrist plea deal

I was assaulted over 100 times by former PAC 12 football coach, Joe Tumpkin, so why is Colorado’s 17th District Attorney’s office refusing to hold him accountable for the charges they gave him?

My name is Pam Fine and I am a woman that powerful men are trying to silence in order to protect their brand, money, and college football program. Joe Tumpkin, former University of Colorado Football Coach, abused me hundreds of times during our three year relationship.

I have done what abused women are "supposed" to do. I have gone to the police. I obtained a court-ordered, permanent protection order agreed to by my abuser. Instead of Joe being held accountable over the past two years by the public and the court system that was designed to protect victims, I have been on trial by college football bloggers and the court system that has not protected me.

I proved that the abuse occurred by producing mountains of evidence including text message admissions and violent threats on my voicemail from Joe, medical records, couples counseling notes, witnesses, photographs of my injuries, recordings of a 911 call from a neighbor who reported that a man was repeatedly saying he was going to kill the woman who she could hear begging him to stop, and an 85-page independent investigation done by Cozen O’Connor Law Firm.

The DA’s office has already offered my abuser a plea deal and he may walk without serving any time. I only have until November 12th to convince Dave Young, the District Attorney of the 17th Judicial District of Colorado, that the 5 felonious assaults and 3 misdemeanors should not be pled down to a single third-degree misdemeanor for which he will serve no jail time. This is so painful for me after the nightmare he put me through and it is an insult to all victims who count on the system to bring justice.

College football should NOT matter more than domestic violence.

Joe Tumpkin, a former PAC 12 football coach at the University of Colorado, physically and emotionally abused me during our 3 years together. His abuse included throwing me up against walls, strangling me, dragging me across his house by my hair, and biting my face. His abuse escalated and became more violent each time. One of the times he beat me, he used so much force to my face that he dislodged my dental implant from my jawbone, causing the implant to require surgical removal. I was terrified and I desperately wanted help, so I reached out to his boss, the University of Colorado’s Head Football Coach, Mike MacIntyre. Coach MacIntyre told me that he “believed every word” that I said, but instead of helping me and punishing Joe, he blocked my phone number and promoted Joe to Interim Defensive Coordinator for the 2016 Alamo Bowl. Coach MacIntyre promoted Joe even after he had knowledge of my restraining order.

I was contacted by a CU Football Booster’s law firm (Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti) and offered money for my counseling and medical bills. I was told that everyone could be helped without going to the police. I was told that I had the Athletic Director and the Head Coach on “pins and needles" over whether or not I would be going to the police and making a report. I went to the police because I didn't want money, I wanted safety for myself and for all of the women who would come after me in Joe's life.

I need your help.

I want the man who repeatedly and violently assaulted me to have a punishment that aligns with the evidence I provided and charges against him. I asked the DA’s Office to charge Joe Tumpkin with at least ONE felony so that he cannot be hired to work with children again. A plea deal was offered and accepted in May of this year even though there has yet to be a preliminary hearing.

It has now been more than two years since I reported the abuse and Joe Tumpkin was charged with five felonies and three misdemeanors. We have not even had a preliminary hearing. In May of 2018, Deputy Prosecutor Trevor Moritzky informed me that my abuser was being offered a plea deal- a single, third-degree misdemeanor, which is the lowest possible misdemeanor in the State of Colorado.

Although this charge can come with up to two years of imprisonment, Mr. Moritzky’s plea deal comes with zero jail time.

To add insult to injury, AFTER my abuser was offered a third degree misdemeanor with no jail time, the DA turned over all of the contents of my cell phone to the defense.

Please stand with me and with all victims in demanding that Joe Tumpkin receive a minimum of one felony so that he can never work with minors again. Please demand that protecting victims and holding perpetrators accountable matters. The undisputed truth, the beatings, the actions against an abusive man, and the safety of women have all taken a backseat to college football, legal maneuvering, stall tactics, and heartbreaking plea deals.

Please sign and share this petition.

Thank you so much,


Click to read Pamela Fine v. Joseph Tumpkin, et al. and the Joe Tumpkin restraining order request.

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