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Wife of Jonah Keri, Sports Journalist Convicted of Domestic Assault, Speaks Out About Abuse

Editor’s note: This story contains accounts of domestic violence. If you or someone you know is a survivor of domestic abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or at https://www.thehotline.org/.

Jonah Keri, a baseball journalist who previously contributed to Sports Illustrated, Grantland and The Athletic, was sentenced to 21 months in prison last month for repeated incidences of domestic assault of his ex-wife. Now, she is publicly speaking out. 

Amy Kaufman spoke to the CBC in Canada about what occurred, describing their relationship early on as “a fairytale.” However, she said things took a turn for the worst when Keri moved to Montreal, where she lived. 

“A lot of what the relationship was me trying to figure out which one was really him: Is it the fawning, doting guy that wakes up 10 minutes before me each morning to make sure my coffee’s waiting for me on the night table to wake up, or is it the person that calls me a Nazi and pushes me to the ground and bites when angry?” she asked.

Keri, who was arrested in 2019, previously admitted to committing 14 incidences of violence against his ex-wife between July 5, 2018, and Jan. 27, 2019. Quebec Court Judge Alexandre Dalmau said in March, “During these incidents the offender punched the victim in the knees, hit her on the head and on her ears, pushed her, dragged her on the ground, slapped her, bit her, spat in her face, head-butted her, shook her, pulled her hair and grabbed her by the shoulders while threatening to throw her off a balcony. During one incident, he threw various objects at her. During another, he took a knife and threatened to remove the baby she was carrying in her womb.”

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The interviewer read Kaufman the list of acts Keri did to her, and she said, “When I hear it, it doesn’t feel as though it happened to me. Because I’m not the same person that I was in that situation. People who have been in the situation know you go into survival mode. You live in 5 to 10 minute chunks of the day of just trying to keep things calm, or defer, or appease, or placate, or do anything possible to keep myself safe.”

Kaufman, who began recording Keri, also discussed the argument in an elevator as the show played the audio. Footage showed Keri head butting Kaufman, biting and spitting on her among other acts. She revealed that after the incident, Keri went straight to record a live show.

A few days later, the couple got married. Kaufman hired a therapist for Keri because of his anger and the two even went to counseling.

“The therapist did warn me that she was concerned that I was going to be murdered,” Kaufman said. She continued saying that “as far as I know, nothing was ever reported, which I do understand because it is a very delicate balance in terms of people who are still in their relationships. You don't want the person to never come back to you again or never call you again.”

The interviewer said that the violence escalated to the point where Kaufman was convinced Keri would kill her, prompting her to leave. Keri presented multiple character letters during the sentencing arguments in January, but that might have had the opposite effect on the judge. 

“Several describe how they were shocked when they found out about the charges because they did not believe the offender was capable of such violent behavior towards a spouse. That statement leads to three troubling observations,” Judge Dalmau said. “First, it shows how the offender is able to construct an image of himself that is very different from reality,” the judge said while reading from his 20-page decision. “Next, one wonders who would have believed the victim if she had not carefully documented the violent incidents. Finally, [the letters] are also a perfect illustration of the insidious nature of conjugal violence; it is a tragedy experienced in private by women from all walks of life that is unfortunately all too infrequently reported.”