Off Limits

Once beaten: GOP political candidate John Gonce, whose campaign for the statehouse in Denver's District 1 gets more gonzo with his every passing utterance, told the Denver Post this month that he's running to "champion the cause" of men falsely accused of domestic violence. Gonce said his 1989 assault conviction in Denver--and subsequent 108-day jail stint--were evidence of a "cesspool of corruption"; he then added in a stunning aside that a "scientific survey" he'd conducted behind bars revealed that 52 percent of the men who admitted "they beat the holy tar out of" women had "bad teeth."

Sadly, Gonce's suggestion that a good dentist could solve Colorado's domestic-violence problem is about the most trenchant discussion of the subject to take place during the current campaign season--this even though the legislature is expected to take up reform of the state's treatment system for offenders next session ("Hitting Them Where They Live," June 18). However, Gonce isn't the only candidate for whom the issue of domestic violence hits close to home.

The husband of Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Gail Schoettler also has an arrest record for domestic violence. Court records show that Donald L. Stevens, now the managing director of the Institute for International Business at the University of Colorado at Denver, was arrested on January 24, 1989, and charged with destruction of private property and assault relating to an incident with his previous wife, from whom he was then separated. According to the police report, the woman accused Stevens of pushing, shoving and attempting to strangle her during an argument in November 1988. She reported having a "redness to her neck," but declined medical attention, saying that she hadn't sustained any injuries. The woman told the officer that Stevens had struck her once before, in July 1988.

Stevens was issued a summons charging him with a municipal ordinance violation; in September 1989, the city attorney's office filed a motion to dismiss the case after Stevens presented evidence that he had gone to counseling. And the decade-old incident might well have been old news by now but for Stevens's efforts to get word of his arrest sealed. An initial petition to seal the records in December 1989, filed on his behalf by the high-powered Denver law firm of Haddon, Morgan & Foreman, was rejected by a judge after the Denver Police Department objected. Representing the cops, former city attorney Stephen Kaplan argued that there was "an overwhelming public interest in retaining the criminal justice records of a person with a domestic-violence-related criminal history..."

However, in July 1992, Stevens, who had since married Schoettler (then state treasurer), tried again. This time the police were represented by new city attorney Dan Muse, who took no position on the request. A judge granted the petition, and the arrest record and all relevant court documents were declared off limits to the public.

Stevens did not return a phone call. Westword also asked Schoettler's campaign about the issue of a potential First Husband having an arrest record for domestic violence; in response, Schoettler issued a written statement ignoring that question, saying only that she was distressed "a ten-year-old private matter" had been raised. It "has absolutely no place in the governor's race," she added.

Neither, apparently, does an intelligent debate about the state's troubled domestic-violence treatment system.

Virtual unreality: If you want to figure out where you're going today via the Internet, you'd better scroll carefully. Just for fun last week we beseeched the Web gods to give us a detailed map of the drive from DIA to our bunker in LoDo, choosing two of the Web's top map services: MapBlast (which is Yahoo's renamed site) and MapQuest. Both failed our test, and in a big way.

For instance, when we typed in a request to MapBlast for detailed driving instructions from "Denver International Airport" to Westword, we learned that DIA is no longer northeast of Denver on the prairie. Instead, it's smack dab where Stapleton used to be! How convenient!

MapQuest, meanwhile, properly located the airport, but had problems showing people how to get the hell out of DIA. The site suggested to travelers that they "start out going North on Pena Blvd. towards Terminal W." and then "stay straight to go onto Terminal E." MapQuest finally got us onto I-70, heading west toward downtown. But, inexplicably, Direction No. 10 said: "Take the I-225 South exit, exit number 282, towards Colo Spgs." Then Direction No. 11 said, "Take the I-70 West exit towards Denver/Peoria St." We can just hear the tires squealing and angry drivers behind us honking their horns.

We were afraid to ask the Web about DIA's baggage system.

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