Wednesday, August 4, 2010

DASTARDLY DADS FROM THE ARCHIVES (Asbury Park, New Jersey - 1895)

Dad AUGUSTUS KING's attack on his wife and his two daughters sounds pretty contemporary. So do the wife's denials and reluctance to press charges. Though some headway has been made with this problem, it is also clear that more than 100 years later, victims are still hesitant about criminal charges. Maybe not so much because they believe that "a woman of refinement" wouldn't do such a thing, but because they fear the consequences after the batterer is released from police custody or jail, usually on some insultingly low amount of bail.

From the New York Times, June 7, 1895


Beats His Long-Suffering Wife Into Insensbility


Mrs. King of Bordentown Refuses to Make Charges Against Her Husband Though Realizing She May Die

Asbury Park, N.J., June 6--Augustus King is under arrest at Bordentown charged with assault against his wife. It is altogether probable that the charge will soon be changed to one of murder.

Augustus King is the son of Mrs. King, the owner of the Hotel Gladstone. He is a powerful man, six feet tall, with broad shoulders and big hands. Mrs. King, his wife, is the opposite of her husband in almost everything. She is small and weak. She weighs not more than seventy-five pounds. She is quiet and meek. The residence of Mr. and Mrs. King is in Bordentown, but they came here last week, with the elder Mrs. King, to prepare the hotel for occupancy. King took advantage of the trip to go on several drinking bouts. He reached home Tuesday morning, about five o'clock, drunk. When he entered his wife's room she was asleep. He awakened her and began to abuse her.

The only witness to the scene which followed is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the couple, who is suffering from her father's treatment. She says King grasped his wife by the throat and tried to choke her. To protect herself the wife tried to pull her husband's hands from her throat. With both hands clasped around his wife's throat, he lifted her slight form above his head and swung her round and round.

After swinging her about his head several times, King loosened his hold of her throat and allowed the body to fly through the air and strike the floor.

May King, the sixteen-year-old daughter, had grasped her father by the coat and was begging him to desist, when he let go his hold of the mother. King turned on her, and, with an oath, brought his fist with full force down on her face. The girl fell unconscious and bleeding from mouth and nose.

Gussie King, nine years old, the other child of the couple, had entered the room and was crying. King, after striking his eldest child, turned on the little one and struck in the small of the back with his clenched fist. How serious the effects of this blow will prove cannot be told, as spinal troubles are expected to result.

Having stretched both children on the floor helpless, King turned his attention to his wife once more. The woman had struck on her back, and was lying half conscious on her side. He kicked her as she lay unconscious.

The screams uttered by Mrs. King, the daughter, and by the other women in the house, attracted attention, and several men rushed in. King was kicking his wife, and cursing and laughing when they entered. A few blows drove him from his wife, for, brutal as he had been to her, he seemed afraid of the men.

Mrs. King was lifted to her bed and Dr. F. F. Coleman summoned. Dr. Coleman made an examination and declared the chances of recovery were very slight. He thought the spine was dislocated, but could not tell definitely the extent of the injury to the bone.

Mrs. King had recovered consciousness. When she heard Dr. Coleman tell some one to go for the police and have King arrested, she begged that this be avoided. No one went, and King, still intoxicated, left the hotel and walked to the station, and boarding an early train for Bordentown. Mrs. King today said she would make no charge against her husband.

Dr. Coleman this morning saw Mrs. King was sinking fast. A change for the worse had come about daylight and the doctor pronounced all hope gone. He summoned Marshal Smith and Coroner Oliver. Preparations were made to take the woman's ante-mortem statement. Dr. Coleman informed her that she was about to die. She replied that she was not. In vain the doctor and the officials tried to make her acknowledge that she knew the end was near. It was plain she believed them, for she made certain requests of her friends and of her daughter, which were to be carried out if she died, but to the officials she stoutly maintained she did not believe she was going to die. Marshal Smith tried to get an unofficial statement of the facts from her , but she would not tell a thing. She seemed determined to defend the man responsible for her condtion.

Marshal Smith finally determined to act without ante-mortem statement, and ordered the Bordentown police to take King into custody.

King was once before, to the knowledge of the officers here, arrested for brutally beating his wife. She stood by him then, just as she stands by him now, and he escaped punishment. Those who know the couple and have known them since they were married, say Mrs. King's life has been a hard one, and that she was frequently beaten by her husband. Mrs. King is a woman of refinement.

Dr. Coleman is treating little Gussie King, and when asked what the results of the blow she received will be, said it was impossible to tell. While the doctor will not say so, it is thought the blow will deform the girl. May King's lips are still swollen from the blow she received.