Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who allegedly murdered his girlfriend –– the mother of his three-month-old daughter –– before killing himself –– once headed a program to end men’s violence against women.
The former UMaine football player was the Student Coordinator of Male Athletes Against Violence, an University of Maine on-campus student-athlete group with members from various varsity sports teams, according to a 2008 article from Bangor Daily News archives.
The group, well-known for its award-winning posters, founded in 2004 by Dr. Sandra L. Caron, Professor of Family Relations/Human Sexuality, meets weekly to study materials on domestic violence and related issues and discuss ways to spread awareness.
“Athletes are used to being pushed and pressured, and I think a lot of them really understand that just because I’m big and strong doesn’t mean I have to be violent,” Caron said told the school paper. “They understand what it means to be a man and that violence is not OK, and why we need to find other ways to deal with anger. They’re good role models, not just for other athletes, but for other students.”
According to the group's website, the mission statement reads: “Violence is a way of asserting power, privilege and control. Men perpetuate the majority of violence, and yet this issue is usually framed as a ‘woman’s issue. Change will come when we challenge the social norms and institutions that actively or implicitly condone and promote violence. MAAV is an effort to involve men so that we can begin to understand that violence is very much a ‘man’s issue.’”
As Student Coordinator of Male Athletes Against Violence, Belcher, who finished his degree in 31/2 years, would have signed a pledge card like the one below, vowing never to commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women.
“We’re trying to cover all the bases at the college level, and educate college-aged men that this is a problem,” said Justin Roberts, a senior on the Black Bears’ football team who was serving as MAAV’s Student Coordinator in 2006. “Almost all violence against women is by men, and the statistics are staggering.”
As MPR notes domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. A woman is beaten every 15 seconds, according to the FBI. Of all female homicide victims, 30 percent are killed by spouses, ex-spouses, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends. Fifteen hundred women die each year the way a woman died Saturday in Kansas City.
Police identified that woman as 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins. According to her Instagram page, the Dallas, Texas native called “Sept. 11, 2012 best day of my life” to mark the birth of her precious daughter Zoey, whose father was Belcher.
While authorities have not released a possible motive for the Perkins murder, police said that Belcher and his girlfriend had been arguing recently. The Kansas City Star, quoting an unidentified friend of Perkins, reported that the couple, who had dated about three years, argued frequently.
One of those arguments occurred in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Perkins allegedly went to a Trey Songz concert Friday night at the Midland Theatre. When she returned at about 1 a.m., the two started arguing because she stayed out later than Belcher would have liked.
Hours later, Belcher, who graduated with a degree in child development and family relations and wanted to work with troubled adolescents, shot his girlfriend, multiple times, killing her, and then drove to the team's facility and turned the gun on himself.
"I think && wonder how she mustve felt [at] That moment," a friend of Perkins tweeted, "watching the man I'm sure she loved with all of her heart, take her life.. so sad."
Zoey is in the custody of Belcher's mother, Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp confirmed. Snapp said the child is safe and physically unharmed.