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'Grandview Five' sue BrewVino's golf club in federal and local court, alleging racism

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Five women known as the Sisters of the Fairway, who maintain they were discriminated against while playing golf at Grandview Golf Course in 2018, have filed actions against the business and others, including Steve Chronister, whose family owns the business.

Local attorney Sandra Thompson on Friday filed her notice of intent to sue, called a praecipe, in York County Court. The statute of limitations for filing suit ended on Tuesday, according to her court paperwork. Thompson is president of York's NAACP chapter.

Myneca Ojo and Karen Crosby are jointly suing Grandview, Chronister, his son and golf-club employees in Harrisburg's federal court. That lawsuit was filed Monday, according to court records.

Sandra Harrison and Carolyn Dow separately filed suit against the golf club, Chronister, his son and others, also in Harrisburg's federal court. That suit was filed Tuesday.

All five women, who are black, maintain they were discriminated against in April 2018 while playing a round of golf at Grandview, where they were members.

They maintain Chronister and others told them to leave and called 911 on them twice after saying the women were playing too slowly.

A cellphone video of the confrontation went viral. The course, at 2779 Carlisle Road, is on the border of West Manchester and Dover townships.

According to Ojo's and Crosby's lawsuit, a white man golfing behind the women stated during a Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission investigative hearing in June 2018 that the women weren't playing too slowly and that they didn't delay his golf game.

The "Grandview Five" take part in a rally at the Dover United Church of Christ featuring state Sens. Art Haywood and Vincent Hughes, both from Philadelphia, Monday, June 11, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

The man "felt the Plaintiffs' group was being targeted," the lawsuit states.

'Bring it on': "If they want to bring it on, then bring it on," Chronister told The York Dispatch on Wednesday. "The proof and the truth is on our side. We have a great case to prove our innocence."

Chronister was dismissive of the fact that the state Human Relations Commission found probable cause that the women were discriminated against.

"I maintain that the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is corrupt," he said.

Chronister said the women "defamed our name" and initially sought $2.5 million. He noted that there's nothing for the women to take.

"We don't have (discrimination) insurance ... because we're not racist," he said. "We're leveraged to the hilt — we don't have anything. I don't know what they're after."

The two lawsuits filed in federal court don't list specific dollar amounts; both also seek nonmonetary relief.

Philadelphia-based attorney Ian Bryson, who represents Dow and Harrison, said the relief being sought by his clients includes "a declaration that my clients' rights were violated."

Such a declaration would be a vindication for the women, he said.

Philadelphia-area attorney John Rollins, who is representing Ojo and Crosby, with assistance from Harrisburg-area attorney Mary Powell, said the women were golf club members and had the right to those membership privileges.

"We have endeavored to reach some relief outside of court, however, representatives of Grandview Golf Course have refused to attend any of the hearings scheduled by the PHRC, have refused to acknowledge Commonwealth and federal laws, and have refused to participate in mediation or conciliation sessions," he wrote in an emailed statement.

"We filed a complaint ... because we believe in three maxims of our country’s founding fathers: liberty, justice, and faith that our government is a protector of such liberty and justice."

York attorney Sandra Thompson, who serves as president of the York NAACP chapter

Thompson did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

'Dragging on': The HRC case is still pending, according to Bryson, who confirmed that neither Chronister nor his son has so far been deposed.

"The case has been pending for a while," Bryson said. "From our perspective, it's unclear what value we would get by continuing to wait (before filing suit)."

The lawsuits move the matter forward, he said:

"The end is now in sight. It's been dragging on for two years."

The suit filed by Ojo and Crosby maintains they were discriminated against because of their race and gender, that they suffered emotional distress, that they were deprived of club membership benefits, and that their treatment violated their constitutional rights. They also maintain they were racially profiled, intimidated and evicted from the club.

Sandra Harrison, one of the "Grandview Five" talks about the emotional toll being confronted at the Grandview Golf Club in April by former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, the club's owner.  Monday, June 11, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

'Overt intimidation': "Defendants' actions were done as a form of outrageous overt intimidation, sexism, and racism directed towards the Plaintiffs," which caused them severe emotional distress and humiliation, the lawsuit alleges.

Ojo's and Crosby's lawsuit asks that the defendants' conduct be declared unlawful discrimination and that the women be awarded damages and any other "just and equitable relief" the court deems appropriate.

The federal lawsuit filed by Harrison and Dow also maintains they were discriminated against based on race and gender and asks the court to award damages and to stop Grandview and the other listed defendants from "engaging in the unlawful acts complained of herein."

The background: The confrontation was investigated by the state Human Relations Commission, which on Jan. 6 determined that "probable cause exists" to support the allegations of profiling and harassment based on race and gender discrimination.

A copy of the HRC determination is attached to one of the lawsuits as an exhibit.

A group of five black women (left to right: Carolyn Dow, Sandra Harrison, Karen Crosby, Sandra Thompson and Myneca Ojo) feel they were discriminated against by Grandview Golf Club after police were called to the Dover Township club Saturday, April 21 over a supposed dispute involving pace of play. (Photo courtesy of Myneca Ojo)

Chronister did not attend the HRC's hearings on the matter. It's expected that the state HRC's next step will be mediation. His son, Jordan Chronister, is named as a defendant and is co-owner of the golf club.

In July 2019, the five women rejected a settlement proposal that included free golf memberships and lessons. Three of the five described the offer as insulting.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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