KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two women who say they were sexually abused by longtime Kansas City, Kansas, police detective Roger Golubski have expressed interest in suing — if only state law would let them.
One of the women, Ophelia Williams, said she awoke early on an August 1999 morning as police officers, looking for her teenage sons, banged on the front door of her KCK home.
Police said they had a warrant. When she let them in, the officers arrested her twins, who were 14, and searched bedrooms, the basement and garage. It was then, as she stood in her living room in a nightgown, that Golubski introduced himself.
Williams, a Black woman who worked at a restaurant, asked him what was going on. But Golubski, a white cop who lawyers allege exploited Black women for sex, just stared at her, she testified years later in a deposition for another case. She recalled that he told her she had nice legs and said her 12-year-old daughter, who was in the room, would grow up to be pretty like her. The interaction left Williams uncomfortable.
Several days later, Golubski came back. Williams assumed he was there to talk about her sons, who were in custody for a double homicide. Golubski told Williams he was friends with the district attorney and could help, she recalled. They sat down.
Williams noticed Golubski’s gun. Then he moved closer, she remembered. He put his hand on her leg, she said, and she slapped it away. When she stood up, asking what he was doing, he pushed her onto a couch and sexually assaulted her, she alleged under oath during a 2020 deposition.
Now Williams and the other woman — identified in court documents as S.K., who alleges Golubski abused her for four years starting when she was 13 — have asked lawyers about pursuing legal claims against him. Their allegations were first brought to light through the lawsuit filed by Lamonte McIntyre — who contended Golubski framed him in a 1994 double murder — that recently settled for $12.5 million.
Lawyers for McIntyre and his mother, Rose McIntyre, claimed in court records that Golubski “victimized, assaulted, harassed” or tried to harm more than 70 women. The Kansas City Star recently filed a motion to intervene in the case in an effort to make sealed records public.
Last year, following news about a federal grand jury investigation of Golubski first reported by CNN, the KCK police department acknowledged it had been responding to subpoenas from the FBI since 2019 about the former detective.
The news came after years of reporting by The Star on accusations against Golubski.
But for the two women who have now inquired about filing lawsuits, their legal path would be much more difficult than the McIntyres’ because the state’s statute of limitations on sexual assault lawsuits has run its course.
Kansas lawmakers in recent years tried unsuccessfully to eliminate the short time frame, at least for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Supporters of extending — or doing away with — the statute of limitations say it benefits the alleged perpetrator, considering many struggling survivors don’t come forward for decades. The average age of disclosure for child abuse, one study found, is about 52.
Sen. Cindy Holscher, an Overland Park Democrat who has led the legislative effort, said a “number of women” have not been able to file lawsuits because of the statute. The volume of accusations against Golubski — which he has denied in court records — also caught Holscher’s attention.
After that first assault nearly 23 years ago, Williams alleges, Golubski cleaned himself up and left. In shock, she sat there crying. The abuse, she testified, continued several times throughout her sons’ cases, likely for more than a year, as Golubski forced her into sex acts on duty and in his squad car.
A lawyer asked if she ever called the police.
“No,” she responded. “He was the police.”
Dozens of women
As an adult, Williams generally had a two-year window to file a lawsuit over claims of sexual assault in Kansas. That passed in the early 2000s.
At the time of the alleged assaults, Williams didn’t know what to do. She viewed Golubski as a powerful detective, and she testified he warned her that he could “have somebody do something” to her and that “they would never find me.”
Williams stopped trusting people. Today, she watches her back, afraid, and checks that her doors are locked in the middle of the night. She was also embarrassed; she did not love herself for years.
“I can’t eat half of the time because I just sit there and cry,” Williams, now 60, told The Star. “I cried every day, all day long, for years and years and years.”
Golubski, who retired as a KCKPD captain in 2010, did not end up helping Williams’ sons, as he allegedly claimed he would. They were convicted of murder and sent to prison.
Williams’ youngest son, Ortez Johnson, had also been arrested with his brothers and interrogated for hours without a parent or attorney before the detectives decided to let him go. He was 13.
Johnson, now 36, recently saw pictures of his mother from the early 1990s and didn’t recognize her. She was “glowing” — happy and vibrant.
Williams has since retained Lawrence-based attorney William Skepnek, who said there should not be a statute of limitations for breaches of “public trust like this.”
Some of the allegations against Golubski first publicly surfaced in 2016 as lawyers worked to free McIntyre, who spent 23 years in prison for two killings he did not commit.
He was exonerated in 2017 and the next year filed a federal lawsuit that alleged Golubski set him up because his mother rebuffed his sexual advances after he assaulted her inside his office at the KCK police department. After years of litigation, Wyandotte County commissioners in June voted to settle the lawsuit.
The McIntyres’ lawyers alleged Golubski used his badge to prey on “countless” vulnerable women over his 35-year career, exploiting them for sex or to work as “informants” to clear cases he investigated. Some were homeless, addicted to drugs or working as prostitutes.
Other than Rose McIntyre, their names were abbreviated in court records. That included Williams, who has spoken to The Star before but chose to be identified by her full name publicly for the first time in this story.
Attorney Bob Hoffman represented Williams and the other woman, who claims Golubski abused her as a teenager, when they were witnesses in the McIntyre case. Both women inquired about filing lawsuits, but Hoffman said the state’s statute of limitations presents a substantial hurdle.
“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.”
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.