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Police records complicate Walker’s recovery story

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By Brian Slodysko | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — On a warm fall evening in 2001, police in Irving, Texas received an alarming call from Herschel Walker’s therapist. The football legend and current Republican Senate candidate in Georgia was “volatile”, armed and frightening his ex-wife in the suburban Dallas home they no longer shared.

Officers took cover outside, later noting that Walker had “talked about having a shootout with the police.” Then they ordered the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and former Dallas Cowboy out of the house, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press via a public records request.

Much of what happened that day at the $1.9 million mansion remains hidden because the report, which Irving police released to the AP only after being ordered to do so by the Texas Attorney General’s office, has been extensively redacted.

What is clear, however, is that Walker’s therapist, Jerry Mungadze, a licensed counselor in Texas with a history of adopting practices that experts in the field say are outside the mainstream, played a pivotal role in extracting the former player from the situation.

The incident adds another layer to Walker’s already checkered personal history, which includes his admitted struggles with mental health, violent outbursts and accusations that he repeatedly threatened his ex-wife. And it will test voters’ acceptance of Walker’s claim that he has long been a changed person.

After calling the police at the gated community where Walker’s wife lived, Mungadze rushed to the scene and spoke to Walker for at least 30 minutes to calm him down, according to the September 23, 2001 report. police confiscated a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun from Walker’s car and placed his address on a “caution list” due to his “violent tendencies”. But they refused to press charges or make an arrest. Walker’s wife filed for divorce three months later.

Although causing some initial apprehension, Walker’s past did little to deter Republican support for his candidacy. He was championed aggressively by longtime friend former President Donald Trump, along with other top Republicans who eventually joined the fold.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his No. 2, Sen. John Thune, both endorsed Walker in October after early concerns about his history of domestic violence. Last week, Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who served as US ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, tweeted that Walker would be a champion of conservative values ​​and is “living proof that the hard work and determination pay off.”

Walker’s campaign dismissed the newly emerged information and blamed the media for highlighting it.

“The same media outlets that praised Herschel for his transparency nearly two decades ago are now running … stories, stereotypes, attacks and even questioning his diagnosis,” said Mallory Blount, a spokesperson. of Walker, in a statement. “It’s shameful and that’s why people don’t trust the media.”

The campaign declined to offer an updated health assessment or grant an interview request. There have been no reports of violence involving Walker over the past decade.

Mungadze also declined to comment, but indicated he was no longer dealing with Walker. Still, their relationship is history as the former University of Georgia and NFL football star turns to politics.

Walker and Mungadze first met in the early 1980s when they were both racing at a college track. They only became friends after Mungadze, who holds a doctorate in philosophy, diagnosed Walker with dissociative identity disorder following a separate 2001 episode in which Walker says he traveled the suburb of Dallas, hearing voices and fantasizing about the execution of a man who was late. a car he had bought. Psychologists and counselors generally do not have medical degrees.

A former pastor, Mungadze has held a counselor’s license in Texas for more than three decades and offers himself as an expert in treating dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.

His professional and academic writings draw heavily on occultism, exorcism, and possession by demons, which he called “theological and sociological reality” in a 2000 article “Is It Dissociation or Demonization?” which was published in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity.

In a method of analysis he developed, which experts have called unscientific, patients are asked to color in a drawing of the brain, with Mungadze drawing conclusions about their mental state from the colors they choose . In 2013, he told televangelist Benny Hinn he could use the drawings to tell if someone had been “demonized”.

“I can tell them what spirit they have and what it does in their lives,” he said on Hinn’s TV show.

His 1990 doctoral dissertation for the University of North Texas argues that traditional healers in his native Zimbabwe are better placed to treat those who claim to be possessed by “ancestral spirits” than providers of Western medicine.

And he was also featured in a 2014 British TV documentary as a practitioner of gay conversion therapy, a scientifically discredited practice that attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people.

“It’s really disturbing that a prominent person like Walker sees someone who looks like the most questionable helper in terms of using methods that I’ve never heard of and never seen on of published literature”, Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics. at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, said referring to Mungadze’s practice of diagnosing patients based on how they color a drawing of the brain.

Walker has at times been open about his struggle with mental illness, writing about it at length in his 2008 book, “Breaking Free.” Mungadze, whom Walker called “one of my best friends”, wrote the foreword to the book.

The book details years of struggle before an eventual diagnosis by Mungadze. Walker describes himself dealing with no less than a dozen personalities – or “quirks” – that he had built up as a defense against the bullying he suffered as a stutterer and overweight child.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness describes the disorder as “an alternation between multiple identities”, leaving a person with “gaps in memory of everyday events”. He notes that men with the condition “often display more violent behavior rather than amnesia.”

“It’s very intensive treatment,” said Bethany Brand, a clinical psychologist and professor at Towson University who helped write guidelines for diagnosing the disorder. “They are often quite symptomatic and can relapse, even after successful treatment, if stressed enough.”

Comparing his condition to a “broken leg”, Walker wrote that Mungadze assured him “it was possible to achieve emotional stability based on the approach and methods he had developed”.

According to Mungadze’s account, it was not easy. In a 2011 Playboy Magazine profile of Walker, Mungadze said he had to call the police at his office during a therapy session with Walker and his wife.

“He threatened to kill her, me and himself. I called 911 and the police came,” Mungadze said. According to the article, the incident ended when Walker hit a door and broke his fist.

A review of court records and police reports documents a far more turbulent path than that depicted in Walker’s book, which has been presented as a story of turnaround.

About a year into her treatment, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader told Irving police in May 2002 that she believed Walker was hiding outside her house. The woman said she had a “confrontation” with him about a year earlier, which resulted in Walker making threatening phone calls and “having his house watched”, according to a police report. The threats died down, but after Walker spotted her outside a Four Seasons resort in Irving, she told police he followed her as she walked home. The woman told police she was “very scared” of Walker, but asked them not to contact him as it would “only make the problem worse”. She declined to comment for this story.

Walker’s ex-wife said she was the repeated target of his abuse.

Now known as Cindy Grossman, she described violent outbursts in their divorce proceedings, recounting “physically abusive and threatening behavior”. When her book came out, she told ABC News that at some point during their marriage, her husband pointed a gun to her head and said, “I’m going to blow your brains out.”

Mungadze served as a court-approved mediator after Grossman filed for divorce in December 2001.

She returned to court in 2005 for a protective order after Walker repeatedly expressed his desire to kill her and her boyfriend, according to court records.

Walker “stated unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head,” his sister later said in an affidavit, which the AP first reported last July. Shortly after making the threat, Walker confronted Grossman in public, according to court documents, which say he “slowly drove into his vehicle, pointed his finger at (Grossman) and traced it with his finger. while he was driving”.

A judge granted the protective order and stripped Walker of his right to carry firearms for a time. Grossman did not respond to a request for comment at a number currently listed for her.

In 2012, a woman named Myka Dean told Irving police that Walker “lost him” when she tried to end an “on-off-on-off” relationship with him, which, according to it had lasted 20 years. Walker, she told officers, threatened to wait outside her apartment and “blow her head off,” according to a January 2012 police report.

Dean, who died in 2019, told police she didn’t want to cause Walker any trouble. But the officer decided to document the incident because of the “extreme threats”.

Federal Securities Exchange Commission filings show she was once part of a business venture with Walker, owning a stake in a company he ran called Renaissance Man Inc., which sold a health drink made from ‘aloe. His mother and stepfather also served on the company’s board of directors.

Walker’s campaign said he “categorically denies these false allegations” and is on good terms with Dean’s parents, who support his campaign.

“This is the first time we’ve heard of it. We are very proud of the man Herschel Walker has become,” Diane McKnight, Dean’s mother, said in a statement provided by Walker’s campaign. “We love him, pray for him and want to live in Georgia so we can elect him to the United States Senate.”