State HRC closes case after Grandview Five file lawsuits in York County, federal court

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has closed its case into a 2-year-old encounter at Grandview Golf Club between club officials and five women who maintain they were discriminated against because of their race and gender.

Four of the women filed lawsuits in federal court last week against the golf club; co-owner Jordan Chronister; his father, Steve Chronister; and club employees.

The fifth woman, York NAACP president and local attorney Sandra Thompson, filed her notice of intent to sue Grandview, the Chronisters and others in York County Court. She did not return a message seeking comment on Tuesday.

The women have been referred to as the Grandview Five and the Sisters of the Fairway.

Philadelphia-based attorney John Rollins said the HRC was following procedure by closing out the case. He and Steve Chronister supplied copies of the letter to The York Dispatch.

"My understanding of the administrative process of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is that they close a case once you file a (lawsuit) in the court of common pleas or in federal court," Rollins said.

Philadelphia-based attorney Ian Bryson said the HRC case was closed automatically after the organization was notified about the lawsuits.

Rollins represents Myneca Ojo and Karen Crosby. Bryson represents Carolyn Dow and Sandra Harrison.

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)

The letter: The HRC's letter states the case has been administratively closed.

"The Commission was unable to eliminate the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of ... by conference, conciliation or persuasion," the letter states.

It also notes that "The Commission decided to refrain from holding a public hearing in this case."

The letter is signed by state HRC Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter.

State HRC spokeswoman Renee Martin said in an emailed statement to The York Dispatch:

"Given the unique history and circumstances of these cases the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has decided to exercise prosecutorial discretion and will not conduct public hearings in these matters. The parties are free to pursue their rights in state or federal court. The Commission has conducted a thorough investigation of these cases yet is mindful of avoiding the appearance of bias or impropriety. In light of the parties’ opposition to all conciliation attempts the Commission declines to prosecute further."

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

'Treated differently': Steve Chronister maintains he, his son and club officials did nothing wrong and alleges the state HRC refused to allow an investigator to exonerate club officials.

"We were treated differently, and our case was fixed," he said, adding he is not a racist. "It's the worst thing I've ever been accused of in my entire life."

Four members of the  "Grandview Five" - Karen Cosby, Myneca Ojo, Carolyn Dow and Sandra Harrison - 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

He predicted he, son Jordan Chronister, the club and others will be exonerated in civil court.

Steve Chronister maintains the Grandview Five case was mishandled because it was high-profile. He said he is looking into filing a complaint about the state HRC's handling of the matter to a state or county investigative agency.

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The background: 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.

Former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, left, stops his son Jordan Chronsiter during a dispute with a group of black women golfers Saturday, April 23, 2018. Screen grab from video by Sandra Thompson.

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

The state HRC on Jan. 6 determined "probable cause exists" to support allegations of profiling and harassment based on race and gender discrimination.

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