Paralyzed in Paradise

Just when things couldn't get any worse for Heather GrossmanĖthey did

John berated Heather all night because of the call, she says. Days later, he was finally escorted from the house.

Heather was "overjoyed," she recalls, but still scared. She called a locksmith immediately.

Kevin Scanlon
Ralph and Florence Stephens have moved to Arizona to care for their daughter and grandchildren.
Kevin Scanlon
Ralph and Florence Stephens have moved to Arizona to care for their daughter and grandchildren.

The Paradise Valley Police Department finally wrapped up its investigation into John Grossman and sent it to the County Attorney's Office in December 2002.

Initially, Heather had told the police that nothing was wrong. In February 2001, Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services both investigated, and again she denied abuse. So did the children, who later told police they were terrified to talk. Heather told them the same thing. It was only after she contacted her parents and the abuse continued to escalate that she finally got up the courage, she says, to admit what was happening and ask for help. A year later, she did tell an Adult Protective Services worker about John spitting on her, according to the police report.

Initial reluctance on the part of a domestic violence victim "is very common, and if you talk to any of the victims' advocates for these types of crimes, it's something you would expect to see," says Paradise Valley Detective Michael Cole, who conducted an investigation along with Detective Don Fanning.

Victims' advocates interviewed for this story agree.

Another common problem in such investigations is that often there are no witnesses to the abuse, other than the husband and wife -- leading to a "he said, she said" scenario that is difficult to base charges on. That is why, Cole says, police were careful only to recommend prosecution based on incidents that could be backed up by adult third parties who had been told of the abuse at the time by Heather, had seen her injuries or had witnessed it firsthand.

The police conducted a lengthy interview with Heather, and spoke with several of her nurses, all of whom said they had observed physical or verbal abuse.

Police also had the children interviewed by a specialist; all three admitted that they were afraid of John, that they had seen him spit on their mother, lock her in her living quarters, refuse to suction her lungs and cram food into her mouth. They said John regularly yelled at them and at their mother, locked the girl out of the house at times and that John's rough play sometimes bordered on hitting. At the time of the interviews, the twins were 11 and the older boy 13.

John refused to be interviewed by police.

In December 2002, police recommended felony charges stemming from the following alleged incidents:

• In about January 2001, John bruised Heather's lip while trying to force food into her mouth, against her will. Three nurses saw the bruise and told police about it.

Recommended charges: Aggravated Assault, Domestic Violence and Vulnerable Adult Abuse.

• In about May 2001, John removed Heather from the care of her nurse, and put her in the master bedroom, where he yelled at her, called her names and poked his finger into her chest several times, leaving bruises. Heather repeatedly told John that she was having difficulty breathing and needed her lungs suctioned. John refused and refused to get the nurse. When the nurse saw her again, he told police, Heather was very upset and needed to be suctioned. The nurse told police he saw bruises on Heather's chest a few days later. Another nurse also saw the bruises. In addition, Heather's daughter said that John poked Heather in the chest and caused bruising.

Recommended charges: Endangerment, Aggravated Assault, Unlawful Imprisonment, Kidnapping, Domestic Violence and Vulnerable Adult Abuse.

• In about February 2002, according to the report, "John spit on Heather's face while they were out to dinner. When Heather told John he was being abusive John reached over and grabbed Heather's face in his hand. When he did this he scratched Heather's face causing it to bleed."

Both Heather's nurse and personal assistant saw the scratch; Heather told them John had caused it.

Recommended charges: Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Domestic Violence and Vulnerable Adult Abuse.

• In about April 2002, John became angry and was chasing Heather's daughter and calling Heather a "cunt." According to the report, "Heather told John to stop because he was scaring [her daughter] and John spit on Heather's face." Heather told her assistant to call 911, but John stepped in front of her to stop her.

Both Heather and her assistant, Cassie Malone, related this incident to police.

Recommended charges: Aggravated Assault, Obstructing Criminal Investigations, Aggravated Domestic Violence and Vulnerable Adult Abuse.

• In about April 2002, John threw garbage on the floor and bed of Heather's room. Two of Heather's nurses told police they recalled this incident.

Recommended charges: Harassment, Aggravated Domestic Violence and Vulnerable Adult Abuse.

• In about April 2002, John called Heather and told her he was "going to emotionally kill her." Heather's nurse heard the call.

Recommended charges: Aggravated Domestic Violence, Vulnerable Adult Abuse and Harassment.

• Sometime between February and May 2002, "John was angry with Heather and threw her onto her bed without supporting her head or neck."

Heather and her nurse both related this story to police.

Recommended charges: Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Domestic Violence and Vulnerable Adult Abuse.

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I got home from work and turned the T-V on, which happened to be on Investigative Discovery..... I thought she looked familiar, and then they said her name.  My jaw dropped....Ok seriously, I'm freaking out a bit.  I dated her stepson during this period and actually was a part of their move to AZ.  I'll make this long story short. I witnessed first hand how crazy John Grossman was.... He got in my face while I was there.  Now over a decade later,  I finally feel some sort of validation.  No one believed or supported me when I was going through the short lived abusive relationship with the son of John Grossman. I only dated Matt for three month's.  He was an abusive boyfriend verbally, emotionally and physically.  Now I understand where he learned this behavior.  He strangled me while I was driving on the 5 freeway and he hit me in our apt (yes our apt I moved in after 1 month).  I want to take this opportunity to say F*&K you San Diego Police dept and anyone else that didn't believe or support me.  Hindsight is 20/20. Our roommate walked in on Matt abusing my cat's and he told me.  I moved out the next day. What doesn't kill you does make you stronger.  I am STRONG!


heather is so sweet, she's so gorgeus....

Terry C
Terry C

Poor girl. She sure had a penchant for picking the wrong men.

Makes me glad I am divorced and making it on my own.


Wow, I have a 13 year old son from my first marriage. My 2nd husband calls him an idiot, moron, loser, etc...Emotionally and verbally abuses him from sun up to sun down.Nevermind what he does to me. He calls me a fat ass, bitch, coo-coo. We have a 4 year old and a 1 year old together now. I hate myself for bringing children into a marriage with a father who berates, verbally abuses, emotionally abuses, and uses all 3 of these boys to make fun of and call their mom names. I worry my 13 year old will commit suicide. I wake up to my husband EVERY DAY slamming doors and being extremly hostile to my and my oldest son. Even my 4 year old just wants to me around me. I find myself trying to avoid this man whenever and however possible. I don't have the finances or education to raise 3 boys by myself. I am trapped and I HATE that my boys see this abuse on a daily basis. My husband went to therapy with me for 6 weeks and the entire practice could hear him screaming names at me for the 1 hour session. He is anxious and impulsive say the therapists. In order to not take responsibility for his actions, he tells everybody who will listen that I have some sort of mental problem and I need help. I am currently on anti-depressants and trying to muster up enough courage to leave this destructive man. Nobody we know ever sees his abuse because he ALWAYS makes sure it is done in our car or in our house. I have no witnesses. When we talked about divorce, he said "when I get through with you, you'll be lucky if you can afford a 1 bedroom apartment you dumb bitch". I wish I never re-married. I saw some very faint signs of this behavior just weeks before our wedding but never before that. I blamed it on stress of his job and school. The verbal, and mental abuse started when I was 6 mos. pregnant with our first child. We went to therapy for a few months and I really saw an improvement. That is when we decided to have another child. Things were great until he was about 6 weeks old. The abuse has tripled since then and our therapist says I am suffering from post traumatic syndrome. I wake up every 3 hours at night trying to clear my mind and just think about what to do. I count how many years I will have to endure this in order to see my kids grow up. I cannot feel anything anymore. I am numb and in survival mode. When I have an argument with my oldest son, I found myself repeating the same behavior that my husband inflicted on me. I hate what this environment has done to me and my children. My friends implore me to leave but I don't have the money for an attorney. My husband has already become violent with me by throwing household objects at me and ripping the sheets off our bed while I am in it. If I get a restraining order, it will just infuriate him and he has already taken steps to take my name off every account we have. I cannot even retain information and I am having memory problems too. I gained 10 lbs because I eat dinner after he has gone to sleep because I feel sick and nervous around him. Trying to keep him calm is a full time job. He calls everybody idiot behind their back and plays "the greatest guy" in front of everyone. I have no witnesses and no hope for any kind of future. By reading this article, I am only thankful that I am not confined to a wheelchair. Gives me something to think about.


@anonymous, you wrote this on 08/2009.  I am just wondering how are you and your children today?

Terry C
Terry C

Time to kick him to curb.

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