Letters

Letters from the week of May 29, 2003

 Begging Your Pardon

Fife drummed: Just finished your column on Fife Symington ("Criminal With an Asterisk," Rick Barrs, May 15). Congratulations. I couldn't have written one any better. What a shame this state has to put up with trash like that. Keep up the good work.

John J. O'Connell
Glendale

Hitting a Nerve

Image problem: I am writing this letter to you about Heather Grossman ("Paralyzed in Paradise," Amy Silverman, May 1). I am one of the many nurses who had the privilege of working with Heather. I was not one of the nurses contacted about the abuse that Heather suffered. I left for many reasons, and one of them was the difficulty in watching someone being slowly, and deliberately, tormented. Someone who could not defend herself but was held prisoner to the endless tirades and tantrums for some ridiculous "something."

At the time that I worked with Heather, John was concerned about his "image" and the opinion of others. He was more careful about what he did and when he did it. He had it written in our communication book that if he came into the room while we were caring for Heather, we were to immediately leave until he was through "talking" to her. Anyone, including the kids, could hear his verbal abuse through the closed door.

The rest of us have the ability to walk away from such idiocy. This is not a choice that Heather had. She was held captive and forced to listen to the sometimes two-hour-long ranting and raving of John, because of an injury caused by her first abusive husband that left her paralyzed from the neck down. I watched her try at first to defend herself or the kids to him and then slowly, after the abuse continued on and on, she would just lie in her bed and silently listen to the verbal assault.

She heard over and over about what a terrible wife and mother she was. That she could not do even the simplest of things right. That he could not do what he wanted because of her or because of the kids. When I would return to the room after these marathon "talks," Heather would be so upset and emotionally spent that it would take hours just to get her calmed down so that she could finally fall asleep. She would wake in the morning to much of the same thing with John storming into the room complaining about the kids, sometimes dragging them with him, so that he could berate them in front of their mother. They, too, would hear about just how awful they were and that they obviously were a "Samuels" and not a Grossman. They would have to answer repeatedly if they wanted to be a Grossman or a Samuels, and if they wanted to be a Grossman, they better start behaving differently. Their rooms were "inspected" and if the least little thing was not done correctly they were marched in front of Heather where she would hear about what a horrible mother she was and what terrible kids she had. The child would have to listen to their own mother being "trashed" in front of them and know that their turn was next. This is what they started their school day with and what Heather started her day with.

The rest of us could make the obvious choice to just leave, and it still would be scary for some of us. The choice for Heather is incomprehensible to those of us who do not have to worry about our next breath, or wonder who will lift us out of bed and place us in a wheelchair, or give us a simple sip of water.

There are many reasons that I will always look back on my time spent with Heather and count it a privilege and an honor to have had the extraordinary experience of getting to know her. If any of your readers ever have the opportunity to meet this remarkable person, they will understand why I say this.

Debbie Cason, RN
Via e-mail

Inhuman treatment: The most heinous crimes are the ones committed against children and anyone who cannot defend themselves because of physical/mental infirmities. John Grossman is not human. He is evil. How can we allow him to walk the streets and expose other victims to his abuse? Abuse isn't a strong enough word for the horrific things he's done to this family. I've met this family and thought Heather extremely nice and the children very well-behaved. I'm heartsick they've had to live through this sick torment inflicted by this barbaric person. I can only hope we as a society would want to prosecute John to the fullest extent of the law and protect its most vulnerable citizens. I pray for Heather, her children and her parents that they will be vindicated. John should suffer the consequences of his actions because he knows right from wrong. I think it's perfectly obvious why Heather and the children were afraid to come forth in the beginning. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. Put yourself in their shoes. Have you ever been that afraid for your children's lives or your own life? As far as the case in Florida, this is a completely separate issue and should be judged on that basis. Please don't let the legal/moral time clock run out on this family.

Maxine Schuman
Via e-mail

A friend in need: Last August our 14-year-old son found a new friend at school named Ronnie Grossman. We were thrilled because Ronnie is an intelligent, respectful boy who enjoys being with his friends. We like him a lot. The one odd thing was that Ronnie would never talk about his father.

Our family was shocked to read your article and to find out all that Ronnie has endured. We need to help this family. Heather has obviously done a good job rearing Ronnie and his brother and sister. However, Ronnie does not talk about his situation and in fact tries to cover everything. It is scary to think how the abuse in that house has affected him and will continue to affect him the rest of his life, especially if it is not brought out in the open and justice is served.

Heather needs support to help her continue to live for these children. They need Heather to be there for them in body, mind and spirit. She and her family need validation of this awful situation so they can continue to move on.

We are gravely concerned that our county and state officials are not coming to her aid. What could possibly be stopping them? Does the Grossman family have that much money that somehow our officials are afraid to prosecute? Sorry, but I had to ask. It seems unbelievable that there is a refusal to prosecute. There seems to be no reservation in pursuing the Catholic Church, however, over such matters. Cases of elder abuse have been prosecuted (thankfully) on far less evidence.

Did the attorney's office even interview the witnesses? Did any investigation take place about John Grossman and his past marriages and subsequent divorces? Is there a family history of abuse that should be looked into? Would this case be handled the same if the husband didn't have money to hire the best attorneys and many of them, to head off Heather and the children at every pass? I know I am not the only one in this community who has many questions.

John Grossman and his family need to own up to the past abuse and get help. Heather, Ronnie and the twins are victims of a cruel system if they won't even take a look at the 1,100 pages of corroborated abuse.

These children need their mother and she needs support. Let us now, as a community, support her and take a stand against abuse in rich and poor homes. We are either going to protect those in our society who cannot do so themselves or we are not.

Carrie Jackson
Scottsdale

Victims' rights: As a friend of Heather, I am grateful that New Times has brought her ordeal to the forefront. Perhaps it has helped other abused and battered families step forward. But if they face the same maze of dead ends that Heather has faced, their role as victim will only continue.

Heather Grossman and her children are victims of physical and extreme emotional abuse. They are also victims of a legal system that may be broken beyond repair.

Are we to believe that the Paradise Valley Police Department documented in-depth accounts of abuse, corroborated by witnesses without any inkling of whether county officials would recognize these as serious crimes? Clearly the Paradise Valley Police Department was surprised that the county willingly turned a blind eye to these events. According to the article, the County Attorney's Office had contact with and accepted the wealthy Mr. Grossman's accounts of various incidents. Did the County Attorney's Office contact the victim to discuss the allegations? No, it did not.

John Grossman has been divorced twice before; both divorce documents are sealed. Clearly the story of abuse did not start with Heather. The judicial system is an advocate of John Grossman's gross deeds, but who will champion Heather's cause?

The Florida legal system failed Heather and on account of their negligence she is a quadriplegic. The Arizona justice system has failed her as well. If the Arizona system allows John Grossman to go free, the trail of abuse will only continue. Somewhere else another woman and more children will be abused and terrified all thanks to our thoughtless and unaccountable judicial system.

Tricia McKnight
Scottsdale

Fiscal education: It's been three weeks since I read the article "Paralyzed in Paradise," and it still has left a haunting feeling in me! Such a story of bad luck and bad karma, but to let a man who is so clearly angry and abusive over his wife's high-level disability go free is simply saying that the abusive behavior is okay both morally and, more important, legally.

This story also clearly shows that abuse can be seen by many and no one either is noticing it or feels it's their place to make mention of it. Going through so many nurses means that many saw abuse, were victims of it themselves, saw that the children were being emotionally abused, and no one came forward to report this? Money, in this case, seems to be the root of evil.

There's nothing wrong with money, but it seems that this awful man's family -- with his father's financial help -- is not only encouraging the abuse, they're saying it's okay for it to happen! I know we all want to support our children's behavior, even if it's not always proper, but this has gone too far. Using daddy's influence, power and money to allow the son to walk away free of any responsibility of his abuse, his terrorizing, his animalistic behavior is not only wrong, it's illegal! How can 1,000 pages of detailed documentation not mean anything? How can eyewitness accounts not have any value? Honestly, it's time to call the legal system to task on this. If this were happening to any other family (i.e., with less money and influence), the guy would have been in jail long ago.

Obviously, the money that's allowing Heather Grossman to stay alive is also the same money that's slowly killing her.

Thank you for not fearing this man's family like the legal system has by bringing to light what a monster this guy is. At least someone has! "Paralyzed in Paradise" was very well written and a big thanks to this newspaper and its staff for being courageous enough to print it!

Laurie Baker
Columbus, North Carolina

Mourning Marnye

A life lost: The writer Robert Stone once posited: "If a tree falls in the jungle, do the gorillas really give a shit?" Well, Marnye Oppenheim has fallen, and now all the animals cry. Marnye was a treasure. I cannot believe she is no longer with us. My condolences to all the staff at Phoenix New Times and to the great gang who ran the late New Times LA.

We loved ya, Marnye.

Ross Johnson
Los Angeles

Unique spirit: I had to express how deeply saddened I was to learn of Marnye Oppenheim's untimely passing. She was a unique voice, had an uncommon way with people and such an amazing sense of humor. I deeply wish I'd had the chance to raise a glass with her. I'm so sorry she's gone. She will be missed.

John Borowski
Chandler

Hans Across America

Giving it his all: I'm the president of the Hans Olson fan club (Letters, May 15). I've been a great fan of Hans for more than 20 years. I'm one of many, too. The fan club has members from all over the world. Hans is like Perry Como? I don't think so. Whoever wrote that has never heard Hans sing "Mannish Boy." Wow, that just gives me chills. Hans is a great entertainer. Whether he's playing to one person or a full house, he always gives 110 percent.

Debbie Riches
Phoenix

Ranters anonymous: To the guy or girl who didn't sign his or her name to the letter running down Hans Olson:

No wonder you didn't sign your name. It's one thing saying stupid things; it's quite another letting everyone know who said them.

If you ever get close enough, ask Tom Waits what he thinks of Hans' music. I think you would be surprised by the answer. Those of us who know Hans, and who know music, wouldn't be surprised at all.

Terry Miller
Mesa

Hans and fans: Dear "Name Withheld by Request" (you coward): Regarding your attack on Hans Olson -- speak for yourself. Hans has many fans in the Valley, around the state, in other parts of the country and the world.

Why do you suppose New Times music editors appreciate Hans Olson? Is it possible that they can appreciate talent and you can't? Hans has earned his living as a musician for more than 30 years -- how many musicians find it necessary to have day jobs? Besides his gigs, he has written theme songs for TV shows and soundtracks for movies.

I have attended many concerts, and unless the music is earsplitting, I've noticed that some people tend to use the music as a soundtrack for their conversations, as some do in movie theaters. This says more about the audience than the performance or the performer.

Why don't you come out from under your rock and have a good meal of your sour grapes?

Carol Wagner
Scottsdale

Wind Chill

Levy taxes: Oh foolish one -- Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara were aping Ian and Sylvia, not Sonny and Cher, in A Mighty Wind ("Mighty Mediocre," Gregory Weinkauf, May 8).

There's something hideous about three white guys in clean shirts harmonizing on field hollers, but it was all very well meant at the time -- and I think Christopher Guest captured that well. I liked the movie a lot. Well, I didn't much care for Levy -- what a fucking downer -- but I laughed quite a bit, otherwise.

Broos Campbell
Via e-mail

Ravers' Edge

Kelley's zeroes: I was very disappointed in Brendan Joel Kelley's May 8 article "No Rave Review" about the recently voted into law RAVE Act (or less controversially titled "Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act"), which gives the federal government the means to prosecute essentially anyone who is involved in the throwing of an event with the drug crimes of any patron.

Kelley's article, in my opinion, failed to convey just how disturbing this law really is. It seemed to gloss over the risk to anyone but rave promoters, and also seemed to imply that as long as only these types of events are targeted, this law is somehow not really a big deal.

On the contrary, this bill is an affront to American "freedom" and sets a scary precedent in federal law -- that people can now be charged for the crimes of others even if they try to prevent those crimes (Kelley's claim that this law will only affect promoters "if they know that their patrons are using illegal drugs" is misleading, as it has been argued that since it is known that people sometimes use drugs at events, promoters should reasonably know that their patrons are too). If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention!

This bill leaves the door wide open for the prosecution of any promoter, venue owner/manager/renter, or event coordinator that is in any way associated with "maintaining drug-involved premises" (words taken directly from the bill).

I'd like to note that in the very same issue as Kelley's article appeared, Christopher O'Connor contributed a lovely write-up about Goldenvoice's Coachella music festival in which he gleefully writes about the crowd, "Some look stoned, a reward for a weekend's worth of escape -- and for winning the surreptitious security game." Do not be mistaken, this event would be just as likely a target as any rave.

Name withheld by request

Biden his time: DEA Agent Tony Coulson needs to get a life. We don't need "another tool" in fighting crime; we need common sense and appropriate use of what's already there. The only "tool" I see is Joe Biden. Maybe Dan Harkins can be held responsible for teenage sex because it was in a movie!

Jim Torgeson
Chandler

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