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A Kansas police officer victimized 'countless' women, lawyers say. The state hinders them from suing

Luke Nozicka, Katie Bernard and Tammy Ljungblad, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

“Anybody that was hurt in the way that these women were hurt would want to have a lawsuit and want to be able to pursue it,” Hoffman said. “But there was a major intimidation factor that precluded that for years and years.”

Lora McDonald, executive director of the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, a social justice organization that has called for Golubski to be indicted, put it more bluntly. She called the time limit “bogus” and said there should not be one for survivors of rape.

“(Golubski) is still living and … has a couple of pensions off of the tax dollars that these women earned and paid into, and they know that,” said McDonald, who knows Williams. “They’re paying for his very survival and how he lives in retirement, and they’ve gotten zero justice whatsoever.”

The statute of limitations is not an absolute time bar, legal experts say, but rather a defense that can be waived. It means that if one of the women were to sue the Unified Government, county officials could waive that defense and let her claims be heard in court.

“Out of a concern for justice, the Unified Government may consider waiving the statute of limitations,” said lawyer Cheryl Pilate, who represented the McIntyres.

A spokesperson for the Unified Government said the UG could not speculate on what might happen in a future legal matter.

Tricia Rojo Bushnell, executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, said there have been cases of widespread sexual abuse, such as in the Boy Scouts, where jurisdictions have changed the time limits so lawsuits could proceed. Rojo Bushnell — who has spoken with women who allege they were raped by Golubski — said that’s one way to recognize the harm done.

“Who do you go to when you are being sexually assaulted by a police officer?” Rojo Bushnell asked. “How do you then fit it into that statute of limitations, into that timeline? It doesn’t happen.”

Legislative efforts

Holscher, the Kansas senator, introduced a bill in January that would have eliminated the time limit on civil litigation for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, meaning they could file lawsuits “at any time” for injuries that occurred since 1984.

Asked why she focused on child victims, Holscher said she wanted to make change “incrementally.” Initially, she said, some lawmakers did not understand why reform was needed at all.

Child victims can sue only up until they turn 21, which Holscher described as a “very narrow” window, or within three years of discovering an injury or illness caused by abuse.

Survivors supported Holscher’s bill. They included a Shawnee woman who said she would seek to hold a gymnastics coach accountable who abused her, starting when she was 12, if the bill passed.

They urged Sen. Kellie Warren, a Leawood Republican and chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to schedule the bill for a hearing. When she did not, it died in committee.

In March, six local survivors wrote a letter to the editor in The Star asking Warren why she “decided to block” the bill from being heard. One was Terin Humphrey, a two-time Olympic silver medalist and a survivor of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor and serial child molester.

Pedophiles “prey on children in family homes, foster care, schools and churches. In good faith, children were sent to trusted institutions,” they wrote. “These predators and institutions are now protected by antiquated statute-of-limitation laws.”

Asked in July why she didn’t grant the bill a hearing, Warren told a reporter to circle back with her so she could “refresh” her memory.

“We’re so far removed from session,” Warren said of the legislative period, which ended May 23. “I don’t have any comment right now.”

Warren, who sought the Republican nomination for Kansas attorney general in the Tuesday primary but lost, later called the session “incredibly busy” and said she was proud of other efforts, including one that now requires the testing of sexual assault kits within 30 days of collection.

“The underlying issue of child sexual abuse is a very serious topic that should not be used as a political football,” Warren said in a statement. “I expect that it will be in an upcoming session and I would support that effort.”

In Missouri, childhood sexual abuse survivors have a decade longer than ones in Kansas, until they turn 31, to file lawsuits against their perpetrators.

In 2019, a previous bill aimed at eliminating the time bar was filed in the Kansas House, but it was referred for judicial review after the American Tort Reform Association raised constitutional concerns over “reviving time-barred claims” and called retroactively eliminating the limitations “unsound policy.” The group supported extending the time limit, but not removing it completely.

“These lawsuits will be evaluated in hindsight based on what we now know and the steps to protect children that we take for granted today,” its president, Sherman Joyce, wrote to lawmakers in opposition to the bill, adding that leaders of schools and other groups today will be “subject to liability, not those who were in charge of the organizations years ago.”

In its report on the 2019 version of the bill, the Kansas Judicial Council noted that a handful of states have “totally eliminated” similar statutes of limitation, while others have thrown them out in certain cases. There is no limit in Connecticut, for example, if the abuse “led to a conviction for sexual assault,” the group of Kansas lawyers, judges and law professors reported to lawmakers.

Many other states, such as California, have extended the time limit and applied it retroactively, according to the council’s report. There, a childhood survivor can file suit until they turn 40, or within five years of discovering their injuries.

“Approximately half the states have statutes of limitations with an age cap of under 35 years old. Kansas is near the bottom of the list with its 21-year-old age cap, along with Arkansas, South Dakota, and Washington,” they wrote. “Only Iowa is lower, as its statute of limitations is capped at age 19.”

Had the bill passed, the other woman deposed as part of the McIntyre case, who was listed as S.K. in court records, might have been able to file a lawsuit.

‘I didn’t want to die’

S.K. was 13 when she first heard from Golubski.

It was 1997. He called her and claimed she was a witness in a criminal case and that if she didn’t want to be jailed, she needed to talk to him, she testified in 2020. Golubski, she recalled, said she could be arrested at KCKPD, so in order to protect herself, they should meet elsewhere.

A middle-schooler at the time, S.K. said she had no idea what Golubski was talking about. But she thought the detective could help her straighten things out.

 

That evening, the girl got dropped off a few blocks away and walked to a Walmart that once stood at State Avenue and North 64th Terrace, where Golubski flashed his headlights, she said.

The girl got in the passenger’s seat. Golubski asked her about her background, she remembered, and one of his questions threw her off: Who did she cherish most in her life? Her grandmother, she replied. She also confided that she had been sexually abused in foster homes.

Golubski then put his hand on her thigh and said he could not believe anyone would “do such cruel things to such a beautiful person,” the woman told lawyers years later. Then Golubski moved his hand higher on her leg, she said, and threatened her.

“He told me just keep my mouth shut and that if I wanted to see my sweet little grandma again, he advised me not to talk to anyone or speak to anybody, and basically act as if he didn’t exist,” she said. “Or I would be kissing my grandma goodbye or my brother would be doing life in jail.”

Golubski assaulted her with his fingers and “began fondling his penis,” the woman testified under oath. He again said not to tell and described the nursing uniform her grandmother wore that day, saying, “hopefully that’s not the last outfit you see her in,’” the woman recalled.

Days later, Golubski called the child and asked to meet, she said. When she did, Golubski drove her to an alleyway behind an elementary school, where he warned of consequences if she did not “abide by his demands,” she testified. One consequence, she said, was “leaving this earth.”

Then Golubski raped her, she testified. The assaults continued until S.K. was almost 18, she said in response to questions from Pilate, the McIntyres’ attorney. When she was about 15, she said, she was found unconscious near a school bathroom from losing “too much blood.” She was taken to a hospital and told she suffered a miscarriage. Only Golubski, she alleged, could have gotten her pregnant.

At one point, Pilate asked the woman why she complied. She responded: “Because I didn’t want to die.” Golubski allegedly abused her in a desolate and industrial area close to where the Missouri and Kansas rivers meet and, she said, sung a lullaby that went: “Down by the river, said a hanky panky, where they won’t find you until you stankin.”

“I can dump you off in that river and nobody will ever know s—,” she said Golubski told her. “You’re an orphan. Nobody even knows you missing.”

Golubski allegedly said no one would hear her scream with the sound of nearby trains. The girl felt like she was “one wrong move” away from death. S.K. bit her thumb and left blood on his car, she testified, so her family could find her if anything happened.

The woman also recalled that Golubski put a dog leash around her neck and walked next to her as she crawled. Pilate, a seasoned lawyer, responded during the deposition: “Oh, my God.”

At the time, S.K. may have had a hard time finding a lawyer to believe a detective was raping her on taxpayers’ dime. Not even an aunt she confided in trusted her, she said.

S.K. testified she has been interviewed by the FBI, likely as part of a federal grand jury investigation that is believed to be ongoing into Golubski. Williams told The Star that she, too, has spoken with federal officials, as recently as earlier this summer.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation started its own investigation in 2019, focusing on the abuse allegations and if crimes were committed during the case that led to McIntyre’s conviction. The KBI later said it found no evidence of Kansas law violations that were still within the criminal statute of limitations, but that it shared with authorities information about “possible federal violations.”

S.K. is not the only child Golubski has been accused of exploiting.

In a 2014 affidavit, Siobaughn Nichols, who spent much of her life in Kansas City, Kansas, said Golubski “especially liked young women — very young, sometimes,” including two girls she remembered who he allegedly paid for sex. They were 12 and 16, she wrote. She said she knew the girls personally, and that one was a cousin.

“People seemed to believe that Detective Golubski ran Wyandotte County,” according to Nichols’ affidavit, “because he could seemingly get away with anything.”

Williams ‘still angry as hell’

It’s not clear how many women would sue Golubski, or other KCK officers, if they could.

In one of the dozens of statements taken in the McIntyre case, Tina Peterson said she came across “numerous” Golubski victims while working at a KCK shelter for battered women in the 1980s. They cried and shook as they talked about the “dirty cop” who “dumped” some women back on the street, “still undressed, when he was done with them,” according to her statement.

Peterson called KCKPD twice to file a complaint that decade, upset that an officer allegedly harmed people he was “supposed to protect,” she wrote. No one ever called her back, she said.

As part of the McIntyre lawsuit, Golubski was asked in a 2020 deposition if he understood he was being accused of “some of the grossest acts of corruption a police officer can commit.” He declined to answer. In total, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent 555 times.

Civil rights attorney Emma Freudenberger, one of the McIntyres’ lawyers, asked Golubski if he ever raped a minor in his police vehicle or if he targeted S.K. “from foster care records.” Both times, Golubski took the Fifth. He did so again when asked if he raped Williams.

Morgan Roach, who represented Golubski in the McIntyre case but is not his personal attorney, declined to comment for this story.

The Star could not reach Golubski. No one answered when a reporter knocked on his last listed home address in Edwardsville, which is in Wyandotte County, nor did anyone respond to a note seeking comment left in his mailbox.

Ophelia Williams hopes Golubski, 69, soon wakes up behind bars.

Now living in Missouri, Williams describes herself as “still angry as hell.” She struggles to sleep some nights. She said she got “tired of standing by, not saying nothing” as she watched news reports about Golubski. The only way she can heal, she said, is for the truth to come out.

And she hopes Kansas lawmakers change the statute of limitations so she can pursue some semblance of justice.

“Not just for me, but for other women, too,” Williams said.

©2022 The Kansas City Star. Visit kansascity.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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