Anti-abuse group's director quits after arrest in assault

Published: Thursday, Jul. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 11, 2013 - 7:46 am

The woman who held the top job at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence has resigned from her job in the wake of her own arrest on suspicion of assaulting her boyfriend.

Partnership officials said Wednesday that they stand by former Executive Director Tara Shabazz, saying she was the victim in a February incident at her Elk Grove home and should not have been arrested.

They noted that the Sacramento County district attorney declined to file charges and said Shabazz's June 18 departure was a personal decision unrelated to the arrest or to a petition that had been circulating online calling for her to be fired.

Shabazz, 38, was arrested after striking a male cohabitant with a tire iron, according to an Elk Grove Police Department report.

The case was forwarded to the Sacramento County DA's Office, which declined to file charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Marsha Krouse-Taylor, a partnership board member, said the police had it wrong: It was Shabazz who was attacked in her home by an ex-boyfriend.

"After reviewing the nature of the incident, the DA immediately decided not to go forward," said Krouse-Taylor, reading from a June 10 internal statement.

She said the organization, after conducting its own investigation, decided to stand by Shabazz in an effort not to re-victimize her.

Elk Grove police, however, determined that Shabazz was the primary aggressor.

She was arrested just before 8 p.m. on Feb. 28 after a verbal argument escalated into a physical confrontation, according to the police report. At that point, Shabazz retrieved a tire iron from an unknown location and attempted to smash her male cohabitant's cellphone while it was still in his pocket, injuring his hand in the process, said Chris Trim, a spokesman for the department.

Trim said officers took photos of the weapon and the injured hand. She was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of domestic violence.

Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, said she could not elaborate on the reason why her office decided in March not to prosecute the case beyond saying there was insufficient evidence.

The petition, filed by a person identified as Marla Singer, called for Shabazz's immediate firing. Just 13 people had attached their names to the petition.

"We would not allow an accused rapist to continue to work at a rape crisis center and we should not allow an abuser to work at an anti-violence coalition," it reads.

Shabazz, who holds a master of arts degree from California State University, Sacramento, was the director of programs at the partnership for seven years before spending four and half years as the executive director, according to her LinkedIn page.

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence website lists Kathy Moore as its interim executive director.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @newsfletch.

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