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Vacationing Professor: Fender Bender Led to Physical Assault

Feb. 18, 2008 — Regular visitor Kent Kirk, 67, won't return to St. John after a young man beat him up following a Feb. 10 fender bender with someone he thinks was the young man's mother.
While he said that was upsetting enough, Kirk is also angry because he said police seemed more concerned about a scratch on the woman's car than the alleged beating at a vacation villa.
"I'm concerned that this not be swept under the rug by the police," he said Monday.
Police are "following up on the assault," Police Department spokesman Melody Rames said Monday.
The retired professor from Wisconsin was driving back to a Great Cruz Bay vacation villa around 7 p.m. Feb. 10 when a car "swerved out in the road" just before he got to the villa's driveway. The two cars bumped, Kirk said, and two women jumped out of the car and started screaming at him.
"I was scared," he said. "It was pitch dark and they were screaming at me."
He said he got back in the car, pulled into the driveway, went into the house and called the police. But the police told him that since he left the scene of the accident there was nothing they could do, Kirk said.
Minutes later, he said, he heard a loud banging at the door.
"I stupidly opened the door," he said.
A young man grabbed his throat, threw him to the floor and started kicking him, Kirk said. He thinks the two women called the young man off, but five minutes later an older man came to the door to say, "I came to beat you up."
The young man left, and Kirk locked the door and called the police. They told him to come to the police station in the morning to make a report, he said.
Kirk said he suffered bruises and thinks he cracked a rib. He didn't get medical care because he didn't think he needed it.
The next day, Kirk went to the police station to make the report and tell Courtesy Car Rental, located next to the police station, about the incident.
The woman filed an accident report, so the police called her down so they could look at her car, Kirk said. Police told him he would have to pay for the damage since he left the scene of the accident.
Kirk agreed to pay for the damages. He and the car-rental agency thought the scratch could be repaired for about $100, but he said the woman's estimate put the price at $320, Kirk said. He said they agreed to a price of $280, which he said he paid.
Kirk, who was vacationing alone, said he's stayed at vacation villas on St. John for the past five or six years. He said he used to own a house on St. Croix, and was headed there after a short stay on St. Thomas.
"I love St. John, but I won't be coming back anytime soon," he said.
Courtesy Car Rental owner Greg Edwards called on the police to investigate further. He said he saw the bruise on the man's ribs.
Police said they couldn't do anything because there were no eyewitnesses to the beating.
Edwards said he's never heard of any similar incidents, but said he was worried about the impact on the island's economy.
"He's spending money," Edwards said.
Edwards said he went to get the police report so he could fax it to Kirk, but the police can't find it.
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