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Ex-lover will help San Fernando councilwoman beat battery charge

July 17, 2012 |  1:11 pm

Former San Fernando councilman wants charges against ex-lover dropped

Seeking to curtail the prosecution of San Fernando Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre for vandalism and battery, her former lover and former councilman Mario Hernandez will testify on her behalf, her attorney said.

The two have also agreed to drop restraining orders against each other, De La Torre's attorney, Bob Steinberg, said.

Steinberg said it was regrettable that the district attorney is continuing to pursue the charges against De La Torre, 41, despite receiving a request from Hernandez on Monday that he wants to end the prosecution.

Hernandez called police June 28 to report that De La Torre had hit him and tried to strangle him. Within days, both obtained restraining orders claiming they were the victim. Prosecutors charged De La Torre with battery and vandalism for destroying Hernandez's laptop and a picture frame.

Steinberg said the pair will drop the restraining orders against each other. If prosecutors refuse to dismiss the case, Hernandez has agreed to testify that police officers persuaded him to pursue the report and get a restraining order.

Hernandez resigned his post after his affair with De La Torre turned acrimonious last month.

The former councilman said he never wanted to pursue a criminal case and it is his "intention to withdraw the complaint." Hernandez also said he believes police officers pursued the case out of bias.

"I feel the investigation was compromised," Hernandez said.

It is the latest turn in a tempestuous relationship first revealed by Hernandez last November when he announced at a City Council meeting that he and De la Torre were having an affair. He made the announcement while his wife was sitting in the front row at the council meeting. Since then, the pair -- along with Mayor Brenda Esqueda -- have become the target of a recall election, which was placed on the ballot Nov. 6.

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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Mario Hernandez. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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