May 27, 2016
The estranged wife of Assemblyman Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) accused him of assaulting her more than 20 times over the last three years at a divorce court hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Baldwin Park City Councilwoman Susan Rubio, who is seeking a domestic violence restraining order against Hernández, detailed eight episodes of alleged violence during her testimony, including one in which she said Hernández choked her with a belt and another in which she said he “dropped” her on the floor and beat her with a broom.
Rubio testified that during one argument Hernández accused her of having an affair, retrieved a knife from the kitchen, held the knife over her head and told her, “Keep talking, watch what happens,” before backing away from her.
Hernández, who was at the hearing, declined to comment through his lawyer, Donald Schweitzer. In his opening statement, Schweitzer accused Rubio of coming forward with the allegations to hurt Hernández’s political career.
The assemblyman is challenging Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) for her 32nd Congressional District seat in California’s June 7 primary. Rubio’s sister, Blanca Rubio, is running for the Assembly seat Hernández is vacating because of term limits.
In court, Susan Rubio said Hernández accused her of “hooking up” with state Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) when Rubio and Hernández went on a trip to Rosarito, Mexico, for her birthday with Hueso and his wife. Rubio said Hernández was upset that she and Hueso had separated from the others while horseback riding on the beach. She accused her estranged husband of pushing her when the other couple weren’t looking.
A spokeswoman for Hueso said that he remembered the trip but that there was no fight and Rubio and Hernández never argued. Hueso denied any allegation of an affair.
Rubio also alleged Hernández yelled at her for “ignoring” him during a separate trip to a Rosarito wine festival with other members of the Legislature. She said he stepped on her toe so hard that her toenail broke. He threatened to throw wine on her if she did not stop crying before other lawmakers saw her, she said.
“So I just held the pain,” Rubio said in court.
Rubio testified she tried to conceal bruises by wearing long sleeves and turtleneck shirts. She said she urged Hernández to seek professional help.
“I loved him,” she said.
In a May 3 declaration, Hernández denied earlier allegations by Rubio when she sought a temporary restraining order against him.
“I would never engage in the type of conduct respondent has accused me of committing,” he said in a court document.
Schweitzer said he would not comment on the case until he was able to cross-examine Rubio at the next court hearing on June 9. The temporary restraining order barring Hernández from contacting Rubio remains in place until then.
Times staff writer Liam Dillon contributed to this report.