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Former U.S. Rep. Katie Hill alleges years of abuse by her ex-husband, receives restraining order

Katie Hill has been granted a restraining order against her ex-husband, Kenneth Heslep.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Former Rep. Katie Hill accused her ex-husband in court filings Tuesday of continuing to harass her since their divorce and detailed years of abuse she says he inflicted on her.

In the filings, Hill, who resigned in October 2019 amid allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with a staff member, sought a restraining order against her ex-husband, Kenneth Heslep. She has accused Heslep previously of leaking intimate images of her as part of a campaign to sabotage her political career.

A judge granted Hill the restraining order, which requires Heslep to stay at least 100 yards from the former member of Congress, her mother and her sister.

In explaining why she needed to be protected from him, Hill offered a grim account of the physical and emotional abuse she said has spanned their relationship. She accused Heslep of choking her unconscious during sex multiple times and siccing two of his dogs on some of her pets.

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The pair finalized their divorce in October, but in the Tuesday filing, Hill accused Heslep of continuing to harass her by leaking false and disparaging information to tabloids.

“Apparently, running me out of Congress was not enough for Kenny. He continues to try to ruin me, creating bizarre conspiracy theories and peddling lies to media outlets, doing everything in his power to continue his abuse and maintain any control he can over me,” the filing read. “It seems that anything other than us being together, and him being able to control my life and my every move, isn’t enough for him.”

Attempts to contact Heslep were unsuccessful Tuesday, though he has previously denied allegations of abuse or wrongdoing. A representative for Hill declined to comment.

Hill was a rising star in the Democratic Party who claimed her seat as part of the “blue wave” in the 2018 midterm elections. As the representative of California’s 25th Congressional District, which encompasses much of northern L.A. County and part of Ventura County, she struck up a cordial relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and quickly ascended to the vice chair position on the powerful House Oversight Committee.

But her time in Washington ended less than a year after it began. A conservative website began to publish stories alleging Hill had engaged in relationships with a member of her campaign staff and a House staffer. Hill — who has previously alleged the stories were driven by Heslep and Republican operatives — denied the relationship with the House employee, which would be a violation of House rules, but did not deny the relationship with the campaign staff member.

Hill’s seat has since been flipped red again. Republican Mike Garcia won a special election to replace Hill in May and held on to the seat by a razor-thin margin in November.

In the court filing, Hill said she began dating Heslep when he was 20 and she was 16. She accused Heslep of being extremely controlling, isolating her from her family, subjecting her to repeated “rage outbursts” and groping her in public, despite her protests. Episodes of violence escalated from there, she alleged.

“On multiple occasions, Kenny backed me into walls when he was angry, pinning me against them and shouting in my face. Kenny started choking me during sex, ignoring my attempts to stop him, and not letting go until after I had passed out or he finished, whether I was conscious or not,” the filing read. “On more than one occasion, I was afraid Kenny was going to kill me.”

In 2016, Heslep purchased a pair of huskies that she described as “extremely aggressive,” according to the filing. One year later, she alleged, Heslep allowed the dogs to “attack and kill my cat Bones.”

Hill alleged Heslep’s abusive treatment only worsened during her campaign. In September 2018, she alleged, Heslep’s dogs mauled one of her pet goats, wounding the animal so badly that he eventually shot and killed the goat to end its suffering, according to the filing.


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