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State commission not seeking further testimony from Grandview

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M. Joel Bolstein, chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, (center) probes witnesses alongside fellow commissioners during a June 19 investigatory hearing held at the York City Council Chambers.
M. Joel Bolstein, chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, (center) probes witnesses alongside fellow commissioners during a June 19 investigatory hearing held at the York City Council Chambers. - (Photo / )

A state agency has withdrawn efforts to force representatives from Grandview Golf Club to testify on alleged discrimination after five women were asked to leave the golf course in April.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission subpoenaed Grandview representatives in an effort to hold an additional investigatory hearing at the end of June. The agency wanted hear from the Dover Township-based golf course before making its recommendations.

The commission held a two-day hearing in York prior to the additional hearing request. Those sessions gathered testimony relating to an April incident when the golfers were asked to leave the course after management said they were playing too slowly.

Court records show that Kathy W. Morrison, chief counsel for the commission reached out to Grandview’s legal counsel at York-based Benn Law Firm last month, asking if it was authorized to accept the subpoenas. Those subpoenaed included Steve Chronister, Jordan Chronister, JJ Chronister, Marc Bower, Brian Polachek, Brian Shiley and Scott Miller.

Although representatives from Grandview did not testify at the June hearings, Steve Chronister, a former York County commissioner whose son Jordan is a co-owner of the golf course, was heard on 911 tapes played during the hearings. The family and other partners purchased the golf club last year.

Grandview also stated in a letter to the commission that it declined to participate in the hearing and that the club's calls to police during the April 21 incident were not motivated by race or gender.

Because Grandview did not participate in the June hearings, commissioners scheduled another hearing for Grandview in July.

A petition for review and an emergency stay in Commonwealth Court filed by Brew Vino LLC, the parent company of Grandview, put a halt to the commission's efforts. Court records show that Grandview did not participate in the first hearing because Morrison had advised Benn Law Firm prior to June 21 that Grandview would not be permitted to present testimony, cross-examine witnesses or provide legal argument. The golf course’s counsel did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

After both Brew Vino and the commission filed status reports in July, the state panel ultimately decided it would not hold further hearings related to the case. Brew Vino withdrew its petition and the judge has marked the matter as done, according to court records.

The commission heard from the five female golfers during the initial two-day hearing in York. The women, Sandra Thompson, 50, Myneca Ojo, 56; Karen Crosby, 58; and sisters Sandra Harrison, 59, and Carolyn Dow, 56, testified that they were targeted because of their race and gender.

Management at Grandview called the police twice on five and asked them to leave. Prior to the 911 calls, management told them they were playing golf too slowly.

Commissioners also heard testimony from Jerry Higgins, a golfer on the course who was playing behind the women. He indicated that the women maintained a normal pace. Higgins no longer golfs at Grandview

The panel also heard testimony from two police officers and from an expert on implicit bias and racism. Members also viewed video footage on the incident provided by Thompson and Ojo.

Now that the case has concluded its fact-finding efforts, the commission will evaluate the case in the next 45 days. Calls to the commission were not immediately returned.

 

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Emily Thurlow

Emily Thurlow

​Emily Thurlow covers York County​ for the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a tip? Drop her a line at ethurlow@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter @localloislane.

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