Jonah Keri’s ex-wife describes abuse in interview; video shows elevator attack

Last month, baseball writer Jonah Keri was sentenced to 21 months in jail for abusing his ex-wife, and now she is speaking out publicly about the physical and emotional violence she endured.

Amy Kaufman, who is publicly revealing her identity as a victim on her Twitter account, spoke to the CBC in Canada about her tribulations.

“At the time it felt like a fairytale,” Kaufman said of the onset of her relationship with Keri. “And in retrospect I was being love-bombed. Days planned of picnics and flowers and hotel rooms filled with champagne, and reading me poetry and buying me bubble baths. I did think to myself, and wrote myself a note actually, saying this was the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken and I hope I don’t regret it.”

Amy Kaufman
CBC News: The National
Jonah Keri
Jonah Keri
Getty Images

She said that things began to take a turn when Keri decided to move to Montreal, where she lived, without their having a conversation about it — that they’d be sharing her condo, and that he’d be taking over control of the finances. The interviewer defined Keri’s behavior as “coercive control.”

“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?” Kaufman asked.

Keri, who was arrested in 2019, pled guilty to allegations that included punching Kaufman and breaking her nose a month before their baby was due, and threatening to kill both her and their unborn baby.

Amy Kaufman Jonah Keri
Surveillance footage of Amy Kaufman getting in an elevator.
CBC News: The National
Amy Kaufman Jonah Keri
Jonah Keri approaching Kaufman in the elevator.
CBC News: The National
Amy Kaufman Jonah Keri
Keri headbutted Kaufman in the elevator.
CBC News: The National

The interviewer read Kaufman a list of what she said Keri did to her during the relationship, including numerous specifications of physical violence and death threats.

“When I hear it, it doesn’t feel as though it happened to me,” Kaufman said. “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 5-10 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 said that, during the period of abuse, Keri carried on his professional career with no signs of the abuse he was leveling in his home life.

“He was completely on [professionally],” she said. “We had a home recording studio for him to do his live hits for CBS Sports. He could go from punching me in the face, close the door, and I would hear, ‘Welcome to the Jonah Keri Show. Hello friends.’ It used to send chills down my spine to realize that this was not an anger issue, it was a control issue.”

She said that the breadth of the situation felt like “torture” and she did not know if there would be a way out.

Amy Kaufman Jonah Keri
Keri also bit Kaufman’s face in the attack.
CBC News: The National
Amy Kaufman Jonah Keri
Keri exiting the elevator after the attack.
CBC News: The National

Eventually, Kaufman started recording Keri, and the CBC show played audio of his anger. Then, they showed elevator surveillance footage of Keri headbutting Kaufman, pushing her down, biting her face, slapping her and spitting on her. Kaufman said that right after that incident occurred, Keri went straight into the studio and recorded a live hit for CBS.

“I remember thinking that I should just walk in [on the spot] with the bite marks on my face, but I was just too scared,” Kaufman said.

In addition to CBS Sports, Keri previously covered baseball for a number of outlets, including The Athletic and ESPN/Grantland. When he pled guilty to his charges earlier this year, he said he was sorry but admitted this apology was “meaningless” because “the cycle of violence continued.”

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