Friday, May 11, 2007

Battered Woman Syndrome

First of all, my apologies for not posting in a long time, but I had finals until Wednesday and took a couple of days off. That does not mean that there have not been stories out there that I have wanted to write about, such as this one or this one, but I need to balance freshness of stories and the importance of them. Of course those two stories that I just pointed out are important and have wide-ranging implications for our society and how certain people in it are treated. But there was one story that really caught my eye and it involves one of the sleaziest things a person can do: abusing a woman. However, this is not just anyone abusing a woman, it is (drum roll, please) a police officer abusing his girlfriend. According to the article, Boston Police Lieutenant David C. Murphy clocked his girlfriend in the face in a Baltimore bar, ran to a Marriott hotel and was arrested by Baltimore Police. Despite numerous witnesses having seen what Murphy did to his girlfriend, including the bartender who called the cops, Murphy's victim said it was all a big "misunderstanding." The Baltimore State Attorney disagrees and is charging Murphy with second-degree assault for his actions.

But here lies the problem: this is not the first time that Lieutenant Murphy has been charged in beating his girlfriend. According to a Weymouth police official, Murphy was arrested following an incident during which he threw something at the woman (the same girlfriend who was punched in Baltimore), cutting her on the forehead. These charges were dropped however, when the girlfriend refused to press charges, much to the chagrin of the Norfolk DA. This brings up numerous questions that need answers. First of all, why is the police officer just being suspended now if his first arrest for assaulting his girlfriend in Weymouth was the end of last October? This means that the Boston Police Department continued to employ the lieutenant after his arrest for domestic assault, knowing full well that he had thrown something at his girlfriend and cut up her head. Secondly, why is he allowed to leave the state of Maryland following his arrest there? Especially considering that this is the second time that he has been arrested for assaulting this unknown woman, a bond of $5,000 and permission to leave the state while waiting for his May 29 court date. While the state attorney did the right thing by charging Murphy, he should also do the right thing and keep the disgraced cop on a tighter watch. Thirdly, why is Murphy's girlfriend defending him? Unfortunately this is not something that is extremely rare in America. In fact, it is common enough in our society that there is a name for it - battered woman syndrome. It appears that Murphy's girlfriend might be in the denial stage, as she appears to be making excuses for her abusive boyfriend. Obviously I'm no shrink, but this seems pretty clear-cut.

I wish I could say that the story ends here. It doesn't. In addition to Murphy's light bond and non-existent restrictions for interstate travel (I find it hard to imagine that if a civilian beat their girlfriend twice they would be able to leave the state where the second assault happened), he is still being paid by the Boston Police Department. While this is not surprising from a department who has allowed men like this to get their pensions and allowed an extensive drug ring to operate under their noses, it is highly disturbing. There is clearly a pattern here and men who beat their wives/girlfriends usually don't stop unless they end up behind bars. Hopefully Murphy's girlfriend will wake up from her nightmare and realize the danger she is putting herself in. In fact, there was just an incident in New York when a cop killed his girlfriend with his service weapon following an argument. However, there is some danger for Murphy in all of this because the battered woman syndrome defense has been used successfully in cases when an abused wife or girlfriend has turned the tables on their abusive man and killed him. Hopefully these two do not reach that stage, but it has happened in the past and will happen in the future. So at the end of the day, we need to ensure that our police officers are held up to the same standards of the law that we as civilians are or incidents like this will continue to happen. Peace.

Photos - Top: A Boston Police Department badge (, Bottom: Boston Police cruiser (


  1. glad to see you back :)

  2. One of my buddy's recently got into some trouble at a bar and the short story is he was arrested on assault charges which are ridiculous we were there and watched as a random guy came up to him punched him in the face and began repeatedly beating him. He stood up to defend himself and in the crossfire the wasted dude fell and banged his head on the kerb. The cops show up and don't want to hear us and arrest him.
    It all got cleared up in the end but had that have gone to court and my friend had to have paid court bonds could he have claimed them back or even sued the police force for wrongful arrest? Also where would be the best place for getting bonded?

  3. Hi hunkston:

    Unfortunately I do not know the answer to either of those questions. The British justice system is different from the American justice system, which I know a bit more about. The person I would talk to is a lawyer from your area who will not only know the laws of the UK, but also the local laws of whatever county or city you are in.

    Sorry I do not know the answer, but I hope that helps. Good luck with everything. Peace.