Daughter Says Dad's Devotion Saved Her Life

April 30, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

Gayle Chew knows where she'd be if her father and her victim's advocate from the county prosecutor's office hadn't helped her deal with an abusive husband.

"I'd be 6 feet under if it wasn't for these two," the 21-year-old Annapolis woman said yesterday, pointing to her father, Fred D. Chew Jr., and victim's advocate Judith Feldt.

The occasion was a luncheon at the Arundel Center marking National Victim's Rights Week. And here was Fred Chew, a lobbyist and an executive director for several trade associations in the health-care field, being honored for his work in the field of victim's rights.

Chew stood out because he did not act like relatives of domestic-abuse victims typically do, Feldt said. Family members can be very blaming,impatient and frustrated when the abused are slow to break the bondswith their abusers. This is especially true of men, Feldt said.

But Chew stuck with his daughter, even when she stood by her then-boyfriend at his sentencing for his first domestic violence charge in 1990 and then married him two weeks later.

"I had lost my daughter," Chew, 57, recalled yesterday. "I didn't know what to say to her. She would blow me off."

The abuse began in 1988, when the boyfriend blackened both of Gayle Chew's eyes while on a camping trip. He received a suspended sentence in 1990 and the couple then married.

Three weeks later, Fred Chew was in a meeting with the mayor of Baltimore when he received a phone call telling him his daughter had been in an accident while vacationing in Garrett County.

"I just automatically knew it was something to do with him," Chew recalled.

And he wasright. In the end, the son-in-law was convicted of drunken driving and assault.

The Chews say the man began beating his wife in a bar and continued to slam her head around while in the car, just before the crash.

"He brainwashed me, basically," Gayle Chew recalls. "I honestly thought I couldn't do anything without him. I thought I couldn't live without him."

"I was absolutely devastated. I was totallydysfunctional," Fred Chew says. "It was like I was attacked. Here was someone taking my daughter away. It was like he was battering me."

Now, Gayle Chew is divorcing her husband and is studying computer programming. As for the husband, he is being held without bond in a Garrett County jail, awaiting sentencing.


Also honored yesterday by the county State's Attorney's Office's Victim-Witness Assistance Center were:

* James T. Amantea, a Northern District patrol officer for the county police who helped make prosecuting a rape case possible by acting as a contact with a victim who had no phone and no transportation.

* David Cordle, an investigator with the State's Attorney's Office who worked behind the scenes in a headline-grabbing date-rape case.

* Teresa Englund, an administrator for a health maintenance organization and a former officer at the Naval Academy who acted as an interpreter in a rape case in which neither the defendant nor the victim spoke English.

* David Fordham, chief of the district court division of the county State's Attorney's Office who helped set up the victim's advocacy program in his division.

* Helen Gayhardt, a secretary in the prosecutor's office's district court divisionwho has become adept at flagging cases needing the attention of a victim's advocate.

* John Wood, a county police detective in the Northern District who worked on a criminal case in which the victim was a homeless man.

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