Judge orders West Covina assemblyman to stay away from wife following domestic violence allegations
A California assemblyman seeking a congressional seat has been ordered to stay away from his estranged wife, a Baldwin Park City Council member, after she said he violently abused her during their marriage.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Alan Friedenthal granted a temporary restraining order Wednesday that requires Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) to have no contact with Councilwoman Susan Rubio, whom he is divorcing.
Hernandez, who has served in the California Assembly since 2010, is challenging Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) for her 32nd Congressional District seat.
Married in June 2013, Hernandez and Rubio began divorce proceedings in 2014. Rubio alleges in a declaration seeking the order that during the marriage, Hernandez engaged in “pushing, shoving, hitting and choking” her.
Rubio said that after an April 5 divorce hearing, an enraged Hernandez came “aggressively” toward her and began shouting in her face.
“I was frozen and not able to react,” she stated, noting that her attorney blocked the assemblyman from moving closer.
Rubio said the act was “extremely frightening” and gave her “flashbacks” of the violence during her marriage, so she decided to seek the restraining order, according to court documents.
Rubio said in her declaration that she was “physically attacked, assaulted, battered, and suffered injuries.” She attached several photos, including one of a bruised and scratched left arm. She also accused Hernandez of damaging “numerous items of personal property in his violent and out-of-control anger.”
Hernandez attorney Steve G. Fox told The Times that he and his client have not seen the restraining order.
“It’s all trumped up,” Fox said Thursday. “This is smoke and mirrors.”
Fox said he told Hernandez to talk to his wife after a court hearing in which she asked for a new attorney.
“There was no incident at any time. I was right there. My client didn’t do anything to create a disturbance,” Fox said.
Rubio did not return calls on Thursday seeking comment.
In her declaration for the court order, Rubio cited several domestic violence incidents during their marriage.
In December 2013, she said, Hernandez slammed his elbow into the right side of her head as they were eating in an In-N-Out Burger parking lot. When she lost her phone on the beach in Santa Monica on New Year’s Day 2014, she said, Hernandez accused of her losing it so he would not see messages from her “lovers.” Rubio said that after the couple returned home, Hernandez “grabbed me by the neck and began choking me” and then knocked her to the floor.
Rubio said that Hernandez was violent again in July 2014.
“[Hernandez] grabbed me out of bed by the arm, and I fell on to the floor on my back,” Rubio said in her declaration. Hernandez then took her phone battery to prevent her from calling the police, Rubio said.
Eventually, Rubio’s sister arrived, and Hernandez was forced to let his wife go to the hospital, Rubio stated.
“To protect the Petitioner I lied and told the hospital staff that I likely injured my back while working out … I had suffered deep bone bruising,” Rubio said.
In her statement, Rubio said that she did not previously seek a restraining order because of fear of retaliation and because she and her estranged husband are elected officials.
Rubio also noted in her declaration that Hernandez previously has been accused of violence against women, including by a former campaign manager and a former girlfriend. Hernandez’s former girlfriend, Carolina Taillon, obtained a restraining order in October 2012 after indicating she had been attacked by the politician.
Under the order issued Wednesday, the assemblyman is required to stay 100 yards away from Rubio, her home, her workplace and her vehicle. The order remains in effect until a May 4 hearing before their divorce court judge.
In an email sent Thursday evening, Hernandez responded to news of the restraining order.
“My wife and I are nearing the completion of a 16 month divorce case,” he wrote. “And despite all of the tensions that arise in any difficult situation and negotiation, at no time prior to today has there ever been a suggestion that she would need a restraining order. In fact, just minutes before this alleged incident, we were both in front of a judge with our lawyers and this issue was never raised.”
Follow @LACrimes on Twitter
Get our Essential Politics newsletter
The latest news, analysis and insights from our politics team.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.