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At-Large council candidate Dee Hunter took a step toward putting an embarrassing episode behind him today, when a Superior Court judge denied a petition for a stay-away order filed against him in January.
WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood broke the news of the petition earlier this year. On Jan. 2, the document alleges, Hunter pushed the petitioner—-a woman he had dated three times before—-out of his car, then later pushed her again at a restaurant when she approached him about getting some personal items out of his home, and then, later when she went to his home to get those items, that he pushed her to the ground, cutting her lip.
Today, in front of Judge Lee Satterfield, the two hashed out each one’s version of events. Hunter arrived at court with counsel, Michael Starr of Schertler & Onorato, and three witnesses to support his version of events. The woman who filed the petition represented herself in the hearing and brought no witnesses.
The situation took place after the two had attended a Wizards game that night. On the way from Verizon Center to Alero restaurant on U Street NW, Hunter says he stopped to pick up some wine and other items and the woman accused him of smoking while out of the car, leading to a verbal altercation. Hunter stopped a second time, leading to a second verbal exchange and the woman leaving the car. The woman alleged physical contact; Hunter denied it.
Afterward, the woman came to Alero, where Hunter met some friends as previously planned. There, the woman asked him to let her in to the house so she could get her things and leave. Hunter and friends tried to convince her to stay for a drink and appetizers, but she insisted on returning to the house immediately. At this point, the woman alleged Hunter shoved her and her arm got caught up in his cost. Hunter says she struck him in the face and shoulders with her gloves while he was seated and he immediately rose to leave, at which point she grabbed on to his coat.
At that point, one of Hunter’s friends intervened to break up the altercation. The friend, Gregory Campbell, testified that he offered to get the woman’s things for her, but that she insisted on going to Hunter’s house. The woman said that he never offered to go himself. Before coming to Alero, Hunter alleges that the woman went to his nearby house, on the 2100 block of 12th Place NW, and tried to get in to retrieve her belongings, cutting a window screen and damaging a window frame.
When the woman and Campbell arrived at the house, the woman said Hunter rushed to the door and starting shaking her bag out, then shoved her to the ground when she tried to grab the bag. Hunter says he stayed in the doorway and held on to the bag because he wasn’t sure if she was going to use it to hit him. She fell, he says, when he let go of the bag after Campbell told him to while she was still pulling.
“At no time did I touch her in any way,” Hunter testified.
The testimony came down to essentially he-said, she-said. Satterfield, in his bench ruling, called the encounter a “one-time incident in which a lot of bad judgment was exercised,” but determined that no “good cause” could be found that an offense had taken place. He referred to “bad judgment on the part of Mr. Hunter not to just give her the items and be done with it.”
“I think the petitioner did not exercise particularly good judgment either,” he said.
Starr said after the hearing: “The allegations were totally false and the evidence presented in court proved that. The only crimes committed that night took place when Ms. Alexander assaulted Mr. Hunter after having tried, earlier in the evening, to break into his house.”
UPDATE, 3:45 P.M.: The woman issued the following statement:
It is unfortunate that after assaulting me three times in one night and misleading the court this morning, Mr. Hunter has chosen to demean my character and integrity. Today, I simply asked that Mr. Hunter stay away from me and asked for the court’s assistance in keeping me safe. It is sad that, instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, he has chosen a path of slander and deceit. The judge said quite clearly that Mr. Hunter used very poor judgment that night and that there was no reason not to believe the chain of events unfolded as I testified, namely that Mr. Hunter pursued a course of unprovoked violence and mistreatment.
Though I understand now why many women have no faith in the criminal justice system to protect them, my solace is that other women now know the kind of ma Hunter is and are warned to stay away from him. I can only thank God that this occurred after only a few outings. As I am a very private person, I hope that these can be my final comments on this matter, but I would encourage all women who have been mistreated by violent men to stand up for themselves as I did.