- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Think domestic violence affects only “two people living behind closed doors?”

Think again, says Denise McCain, executive director of the Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County.

Domestic violence “was relatively hush-hush, a private family matter between two people living behind closed doors. Now people see how serious it is and that it doesn’t just impact the victim,” Ms. McCain says.

How many bystanders could have been seriously injured in the T-Mobile store in Clinton Oct. 10, when Roger B. Hargrave made good on his threat to his estranged wife, Yvette Cade, to “fry [her] like Crisco grease?”

Last week, a Prince George’s jury deliberated seven hours before finding Hargrave, 34, guilty of first- and second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault against Ms. Cade, 32, now his ex-wife.

Hargrave’s attorney said her husband did not intend to kill Ms. Cade, only to burn her. That sorry argument adds insult to injury.

Prince George’s State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey got it right when he said, “This case is rooted in rage, propelled by malice and executed without mercy.”

Hargrave should be granted no mercy.

It wasn’t enough that he verbally harassed Ms. Cade, calling her and leaving lewd messages for hours before the crime.

It wasn’t enough that he went to her job in a public place and doused her with gasoline, then chased her and lit her afire.

It wasn’t enough that he stomped on the foot of the 4-foot-11 woman when she fell so she couldn’t escape.

Miraculously, she got away and ran back into the store, where she tried to spray water on herself and where she was rolled on the ground by helpers.

The commendable Ms. Cade, who has survived a half-dozen surgeries after receiving second- and third-degree burns over 65 percent of her body, boldly faced her attacker in court last week.

“I applaud her; she’s extremely brave,” Ms. McCain says.

Ms. Cade remains positive and upbeat, more concerned for her daughter than herself, says Ms. McCain, who talked with the victim’s sister.

“I’m just grateful she’s alive and hope she’ll get through this and is able to heal, and by healing, I mean of the emotional scars as well,” says Ms. McCain, who has been working in the area of domestic violence for 15 years.

Gruesome reports about Ms. Cade’s scars should send a chill through this community and wake us up to the demon of domestic violence.

It’s no wonder Hargrave could not look at his badly burned victim — whose nose, chin and ear “melted” in the attack — during her heroic two-hour testimony.

He might very well be contrite, but he is still very much a coward. Only a coward acts out his personal demons on the less vulnerable.

Hargrave would never see the light of day again as a free man if it were up to me for all the pain that his permanently disfigured ex-wife will have to endure for the rest of her life.

Lest we forget, their young daughter also is forever scarred by her mother’s wounds as well.

Prisons are filling with people who allowed failed relationships turn them into killers. Thankfully, that is not the case here.

However, juries are reluctant to give harsh sentences in domestic-violence cases, even when the victim is murdered, according to a recent Associated Press report.

Hargrave alone cannot be held accountable for Ms. Cade’s injuries.

Just three weeks before she was burned, county District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo, 67, unfairly berated Ms. Cade and summarily dismissed a protective order against her husband. That’s double the abuse.

Judge Palumbo was reassigned to administrative duties and awaits further judgment as a commission of his peers decides his employment fate.

Ms. McCain says she is meeting with a supervising judge to discuss domestic-violence training for jurists “so they will become more sensitive to the issue.”

She also says she has seen an increase in the number of men enrolled in her group’s 26-week abuse-intervention program through more aggressive court orders.

Prince George’s County law and social services officials, along with domestic-violence specialists, have stepped up their coordinated efforts to reduce domestic violence.

On Sunday, sheriff’s deputies began to implement a pilot project in which they will answer all domestic-violence calls in areas with the highest incidence of such crime: Forestville, Kentland, Landover, Palmer Park and Suitland. They hope to expand coverage to the entire county within 90 days.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800/799-SAFE (7233). The hot line for the Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County is 866/DVCRISIS (382-7474) or 301/731-1203. The crisis line for My Sister’s Place, which operates emergency shelters in the District, is 202/529-5991. The hot line for the House of Ruth, which offers legal services to domestic-violence victims, is 202/347-2777.

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