Fine
Fine

The defense attorney for former University of Colorado coach Joseph Tumpkin filed a motion last week in support of a misdemeanor plea deal for Tumpkin in his domestic violence case, citing a lack of evidence and pointing out possible alternative motives for the named victim in the case coming forward.

Tumpkin, 47, is charged with five counts of second-degree assault and three counts of third-degree assault. But at a hearing earlier this month, attorneys indicated they had reached a plea deal in the case in which Tumpkin would plead guilty to one third-degree assault charge in exchange for the rest of the charges being dismissed.

In response to objections to the plea deal by Pamela Fine, Tumpkin's ex-girlfriend and the named victim in the case, Broomfield Judge Michael Goodbee first asked both prosecutors and defense attorneys to file written motions explaining how they reached the plea deal, setting a Dec. 26 deadline.

The Broomfield court records office said a prosecution filing was not available on Thursday, and officials with the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office did not return requests for the filing or comment on the filing.

But a motion from Tumpkin's attorney Jon Banashek was available Thursday, having been filed on Dec. 21.


Advertisement

In it, Banashek said the plea deal had been "discussed at length over several months" and "reflects an exhaustive review of the potentially admissable evidence in determining a likely outcome at trial while recognizing that a resolution of an individual case must consider that individual's unique and mitigating evidence."

"The evidence shows this is a just resolution to this case given the totality of the relevant circumstances," Banashek wrote.

Tumpkin, who is free on bond, is set for a hearing on Feb. 1. If Goodbee accepts the plea deal, it will be a disposition hearing. If not, it will be a preliminary hearing.

"This disposition reflects a sober, professional, and experienced evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the state's evidence, including the evidence that was not available when the charges were filed and Tumpkin's mitigation evidence," Banashek wrote. "It should be approved."

The evidence

According to an arrest affidavit, Fine told police Tumpkin assaulted her more than 100 times between February 2015 and November 2016 while they were dating.

Fine told police Tumpkin strangled her, pushed her and even bit her during these incidents.

But in his filing, Banashek claims evidence recovered from Fine's phone after charges were filed contradicts those accusations. He wrote that Fine often took pictures of herself on her phone, and none of them indicate any of those injuries.

"Of the thousands of pictures on Fine's phone and the hundreds of pictures of her, only one possibly shows evidence of injury," Banashek wrote, noting the picture in question is of a minor injury to a hand but contained no information about how the injury occurred.

Tumpkin admits the relationship was strained, and to forcibly taking his electronic devices from Fine during arguments.

"Tumpkin admits causing Fine pain, consistent with third-degree assault, as he forcibly took his electronic devices back," Banashek wrote. "He, however, denies strangling or attempting to strangle her."

Banashek also wrote that in some cases, Tumpkin was acting in self-defense.

"I don't want to be beat up or played anymore. I also don't wish to beat you up anymore," one of Fine's texts reads, according to the motion. In other texts, Tumpkin at one point accuses Fine of punching him in the mouth, while she denies in text an instance of brandishing a knife.

"Fine's sustained anger toward Tumpkin over her repeatedly finding evidence of his contact with other women and struggling over his electronic devices is also consistent with evidence that at times Tumpkin was defending himself," Banashek wrote.

Motive

In the motion, Banashek writes that Fine and Tumpkin had a "strained" relationship and that there was infidelity on both sides. In addition to being angry about Tumpkin's relationships with other women, Banashek said Fine had other motives that could be introduced in court.

"Fine's motives to fabricate allegations of abuse is not limited to her anger over Tumpkin's relationships with other women," Banashek wrote. "In fact, she has several motives to fabricate that arose at the beginning, middle and end of their relationship."

Banashek wrote that Fine texted Tumpkin upset her son, who at one point played under Tumpkin at Central Michigan, didn't get more playing time.

According to the motion, Fine also reportedly supported the CU football team in public while "rooting against Tumpkin's and CU's success" with friends. In one text, a friend asks Fine, "I'm not sure if this matters but.... are you doing this for you or to ruin his career?"

Fine responds, "Probably his career. Not sure. Like ... it's so tied in."

Tumpkin was forced to resign from CU after the allegations became public. The case first came to light after the Camera discovered a temporary restraining order Fine filed against Tumpkin, which itself Banashek questioned.

"Fine's desire for attention and the limelight is also relevant motive evidence," Banashek writes. "Instead of seeking a civil protection order in Michigan, where she lives, she flew to Colorado to obtain one where Tumpkin lives and she knew it was more likely to get attention in the press," Banashek wrote.

Fine did not comment on the motion, but Anne Tapp, the executive director of Boulder's Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, reviewed the motion and issued a statement on Fine's behalf.

"The defense's motion reads as a thesis in victim blaming," Tapp said in a statement. "It rehashes typical stereotypes that have forever been used to keep survivors silent and to punish them if they refuse to do so. Victims are regularly blamed for not reporting abuse. Then, when they find the courage, safety and support to do so, they are accused of being vengeful and hysteric.

"The defense's motion focuses the glare of judgement on Ms. Fine — her every word scrutinized, her intentions villainized — while the abusive behavior of Mr. Tumpkin is minimized and sidelined. Yes, it's the job of defense attorneys to vigorously defend their client. But it is incumbent on the rest of us to recognize victim blaming stereotypes when we see them and to demand that abusers are held accountable for their actions.

"We commend Ms. Fine for her courage in first coming forward to report her experiences of abuse, and then to withstand the re-victimization she has experienced in the subsequent two years. It is time to place 'blame' where it belongs — with abusers who choose violence and their apologists who excuse it."

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars