BY KEN LITTLE
A Greene County Grand jury on Monday indicted state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, on a felony count of reckless endangerment in connection with a March incident involving his estranged wife, Crystal Goan Hawk.
The grand jury issued a no-true bill on a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault against Hawk.
The reckless endangerment indictment states that Hawk "unlawfully, feloniously and recklessly, did commit an assault [by] recklessly causing bodily injury to another, a domestic assault victim, his spouse, Crystal Goan Hawk."
The indictment states that the assault "resulted in serious bodily injury to the victim."
The alleged assault occurred "on the 17th and 18th of March" the indictment states.
Hawk, who in March entered a not guilty plea to the domestic violence charge, has strongly maintained his innocence in connection with the charges, is scheduled to appear Friday morning for arraignment in Greene County Criminal Court.
Hawk, 44, said Tuesday in an interview with The Greeneville Sun that he was not informed of the grand jury actions in his case.
"We weren't aware there was a second count," he said.
Hawk has been steadfast in proclaiming his innocence since charges were filed in the case.
"I strongly maintain my innocence, and I've done nothing wrong," he said.
Hawk said he was surprised that he or his lawyer was not informed about the grand jury's actions.
"We've heard nothing about this. This is bizarre," he said. "This was reported before we were notified of anything."
The charges were presented to the grand jury by the appointed district attorney general in the case, Joseph D. Baugh.
Hawk has remained free on bond since his arrest March 18 in connection with the incident.
On Nov. 6, Hawk, a Republican, was re-elected to a sixth term in the Tennessee House of Representatives after winning re-election by defeating Democratic challenger Eddie Yokley by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin.
CHARGE BOUND OVER
The domestic assault charge against Hawk was bound over to a grand jury at a September preliminary hearing in Greene County General Sessions Court.
Two sheriff's deputies who spoke with David and Crystal Goan Hawk on the morning of March 18 testified for the state, along with alleged victim Crystal Goan.
The couple has not had direct contact since March 18 and are in the process of attorney mediation likely leading to a divorce, according to hearing testimony in September.
Goan, who has a law office in Greeneville, did not return a call this morning seeking comment on Hawk's indictment.
Specially-appointed Judge James Nidiffer, of Washington County, found at the conclusion of the September hearing that evidence was sufficient to forward the case to a grand jury for consideration.
Hawk did not testify at the September preliminary hearing, which was held to determine whether probable cause exists to establish that domestic assault was committed.
It's not clear when the reckless endangerment charge was added.
Baugh, a former district attorney general from Williamson County who was appointed special prosecutor in the case, declined to comment on the reckless endangerment charges or any other aspect of the case this morning.
"I can't say anything. I'm involved in the case and I can't make any comment," Baugh said after being reached at his Franklin law office.
Tom Dillard, the Knoxville lawyer who represents Hawk, said today he and his client "were surprised and disappointed by the grand jury's actions, but we're certainly prepared to defend this matter. Mr. Hawk maintains his innocence (on) those charges."
Dillard did not anticipate the reckless endangerment charge.
"Nobody is privy to the grand jury's actions except the grand jury and we have no real access as to how they came about their decision," Dillard said.
At Hawk's September preliminary hearing, Greene County sheriff's Deputy Michael MacDonald testified that he responded to the Greeneville house of a friend of Goan, where she went after the altercation.
MacDonald said he noticed injuries to Goan's face and arm.
Baugh asked MacDonald if, in his opinion, he believed it was a domestic assault case.
"Based on the facts explained to me, yes," he said.
Baugh asked if David Hawk was the "primary aggressor."
"From everything I was able to ascertain during my investigation, yes," MacDonald said.
MacDonald testified he then went to the house shared by David Hawk and his wife.
After Hawk answered the door and came outside, MacDonald said he overheard Hawk tell Goan, who was in the driveway, "It's all her fault. She pulled a gun on me."
Hawk reiterated that statement the day after he was charged.
"Yesterday [March 18], my wife had a gun and told me she was going to put a bullet in my head while I was holding my baby. At that time, I escaped to safety with my daughter."
Goan told deputies that her husband struck her in the face with his hand, knocking her to the ground, a Sheriff's Department report said.
On March 18, Hawk released a brief statement that said, "I am innocent and did not do what has been alleged against me. I did not harm my wife."
The Greene County Sheriff's Department has made no determination that a gun was involved during the domestic altercation between Hawk and his wife, according to initial and follow-up reports.
General Sessions Court Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. recused himself from the case, which will be heard by Nidiffer, of Washington County.
After speaking to both parties on March 18, MacDonald arrested Hawk and took him to be booked at the Greene County Detention Center.
MacDonald's affidavit of complaint said Hawk committed the offense of domestic assault by striking Goan in the face and knocking her to the ground, and also "grabbing" her by the arm while she was holding their infant daughter in her arms.
"Did he ever produce a gun?" Baugh asked at the preliminary hearing.
"No," MacDonald replied.
Initial reports filed by deputies stated that Goan told deputies the couple had been drinking on Saturday night, March 17. They participated in local social events earlier that evening.
According to the reports, she said her husband became angry around 1 a.m. Sunday after "looking through her cell phone."
Reports said the argument reportedly continued through the early morning hours and culminated, Goan said, when Hawk allegedly struck her in the face about 8 a.m. on March 18.
The criminal complaint filed against David Hawk in connection with the domestic assault charge alleges that he grabbed Goan by the arm, "striking her in the face, causing injury and knocking her to the ground."
Goan "had bruising and swelling on and around her right eye, an abrasion [to] the upper and lower right side of her lip, and a large bruise on her left upper arm," the complaint states.
Goan told deputies that she was holding the couple's 11-month-old daughter in her arms when she fell from the alleged blow. Goan said Hawk then "took the child from her and went to a neighbor's house," according to reports.
GOAN'S CREDIBILITY QUESTIONED
At the preliminary hearing in General Sessions Court in September, Dillard, Hawk's attorney, called Goan's credibility into question.
He did so through his line of questioning when Goan, a Greeneville attorney, offered her version of events on the stand.
Goan was a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in 2009 by her former husband, James Roy Klumb, that resulted in a ruling in July in Klumb's favor.
The federal court ruling also included a strong rebuke to Goan from U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter for what he indicated he considered her questionable testimony in that case.
In October, Carter also denied Goan's motion to amend a judgment awarding Klumb $10,000 in statutory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages.
In awarding $20,000 in statutory and punitive damages to Klumb, the federal judge said in his ruling that Goan's actions were part of "a larger scheme to gain advantage of the plaintiff during their divorce."
Judge Carter termed the actions "extreme and outrageous," and questioned the credibility of her testimony during the civil trial.
On Oct. 8, Goan filed an appeal of the judge's ruling with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.