Allegations against Sheen illustrate challenges police face in domestic abuse cases
Allegations that Charlie Sheen threatened to harm his wife point up the difficulties officials sometimes confront in dealing with domestic violence cases, some experts said.
Sheen's wife, Brooke Mueller, said this week that the TV star threatened to stab her in the eye. She also said he vowed to decapitate her and send her severed head to her mother.
Her statements were enough for an L.A. judge to issue a temporary restraining order against Sheen, who has already been convicted twice for domestic violence. But the statements were not enough for the Los Angeles Police Department to open a criminal investigation. LAPD officials said they’ve discussed the issue and determined that they can only launch a probe if Mueller files a complaint, which as of Friday she has not.
“It is incumbent on her to come forward and make a police report,” said Sgt. Mitzi Grasso. “Our hands are tied.”
Those who help domestic violence victims said Sheen’s case is in many ways similar to others they see -- women who get restraining orders but are too frightened or otherwise unwilling to report incidents to police.
They say getting domestic abuse victims to file police reports is a continuing struggle. Victims sometimes fear that reporting an abuser to police will lead to the abuser’s arrest and make life more difficult -– financially or emotionally -– for the children.
TuLynn Smylie, executive director of the Women’s Shelter of Long Beach, said she thinks police should investigate “if a judge believes there is enough evidence for a restraining order that says she has a credible story.”
Smylie and others said the Sheen situation focused attention on the quandary for police.
“If a police report isn’t made, it makes it very hard for law enforcement,” said Olivia Rodriguez, executive director of the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council. “When we get involved, one of the first things we emphasize to survivors is to make a police report.”
The restraining order issued by L.A. County Superior Court Judge Hank Goldberg on Tuesday came after Mueller, in the declaration, accused the actor of being “insane.”
Mueller alleged that Sheen repeatedly threatened to kill her, including Sunday night when he told her, “I will cut your head off, put it in a box and send it to your mom!” In a text, he talked about killing his manager, Mueller said.
Her attorney did not return calls seeking comment Friday. Sheen’s attorney declined to comment, but the actor has said he does not hit women.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller
Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press