April 9, 2003 – Acting Police Commissioner Elton Lewis may face a difficult audience at his Senate Rules Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday as a result of recent media reports that he was accused in 1993 of assaulting his ex-wife. But Lewis said last week that the circulation of a police report about the incident was a "smear campaign" to discredit him.
The Women's Coalition of St. Croix, on behalf of itself and the territory's other two main domestic violence victim services agencies — Family Resource Center on St. Thomas and Safety Zone on St. John — wrote to Sen. Roosevelt Davis, the Rules Committee chair, asking that the matter be investigated further.
The letter said that the Women's Coalition has "received numerous complaints from people in the territory" concerned about Lewis's nomination to become police commissioner. The letter noted that last Friday's TV2 news broadcast led off with a report on the allegations "which included excerpts from a police report filed on May 30, 1993."
The report stated that Lewis's ex-wife, Willette Lewis, filed a complaint stating that he had assaulted and threatened to kill her. A police officer's report said that Lewis admitted that he had had an altercation with his ex-wife and that he "grabbed her by her dress collar and shook her up. As a result the dress got torn."
An investigation, the officer's report said, revealed that there was a slight redness to Willette Lewis's arm and face but that she refused medical attention. At the time, it said, the two were divorced. They had been married for 14 years, the report said.
The Women's Coalition letter said the allegations of domestic violence, as well as allegations of sexual harassment, compelled the organization to voice concerns over Lewis's nomination. The letter did not contain details about any sexual harassment allegations.
"Whoever is chosen to lead the V.I. Police Department must serve as a role model for the 'women and men in blue,'" the letter said, and the police report "warrants further investigation."
The Women's Coalition told David: "It is our hope that your committee takes the concerns of the community into consideration as you make this most important decision."
Lewis, who said he would not go into details about the incident, said the issue has been thoroughly scrutinized by law-enforcement agencies and "nothing was substantiated" as a result.
"I currently hold a top-secret clearance based on my previous job and based on my experience with the State Department," Lewis said. "If they had found I'd done anything wrong, I would not have been granted clearance."
Lewis also called the incident "unfortunate and regrettable" and said he has not spoken to Willette Lewis since June 4, 1993.
He cited ulterior motives on the part of whoever released the police report to the media, noting that it likely came from within the Police Department.
"These guys, whoever's doing it, simply don't have anything else on me," he said.
He said he expects some members of the Police Department to "come after" him during his confirmation hearing, adding that some employees may be unhappy with the high standards he sets.
"It's a lack of discipline, and that's the bottom line," he said. "I stand for law and order and for a chain of command. This is a police department, and if we don't have some semblance of order, we should throw in the towel."
Lewis said he, however, intends to do no such thing. "I'm not going to run," he said. "These individuals are inciting a smear campaign. No one has ever questioned my education, my integrity, my ability to manage."
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Legislature Building on St. Thomas.
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