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San Fernando councilwoman charged with beating ex-lover

July 13, 2012 |  5:25 pm

De la torreSan Fernando Councilwoman Maribel de la Torre was charged Friday with vandalism and battery of her former lover and council colleague Mario Hernandez during an acrimonious breakup last month.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office filed the two misdemeanor charges against the 41-year-old councilwoman in the June 28 incident, which Hernandez reported to San Fernando police.

De la Torre allegedly attempted to strangle her then-colleague and smashed his laptop computer, according to authorities. After the confrontation, each took out a restraining order against the other and accused the other of being the aggressor.

Just four days after the incident, the City Council -- with De La Torre abstaining and Hernandez absent -- fired interim Police Chief Gil Carrillo, who was overseeing the investigation.

Hernandez -- who announced in November during a council session that he was having an affair with De la Torre, as his wife watched from the front row --   quit his City Council position Monday, apologizing for bringing his private life into council business. The pair, along with Mayor Brenda Esqueda, were already facing a recall election this fall.

Hernandez told police that De La Torre arrived at his residence June 28 shortly before 6 p.m. to retrieve an iPad she had given him for his birthday and pushed past him into the home, according to a police report. When he told her he did not have the iPad there, she punched him in the left cheek and slapped him in the face before “ransacking his bedroom,” smashing the glass of a picture frame and breaking his laptop by slamming it on the floor, according to his version of events in the police report.

He told police she then grabbed him by the neck with both hands and began to squeeze his throat while yelling that she was going to kill him. A police officer reported finding the bedroom ransacked and saw swelling on Hernandez’s face, marks on his arms and scratches and redness around his throat.

Hernandez got a restraining order against De La Torre on July 3. In seeking her restraining order, De La Torre alleged that Hernandez attacked her and had also done so in December. She said it was Hernandez who slammed her head against the floor, which caused her to black out.

In an email to The Times on July 6, De la Torre said: "Words cannot begin to express how saddened I am over the events of the past several days."

She added, "It would be inappropriate to discuss this matter until any potential legal issues are resolved."

Her attorney has denied any wrongdoing on her part, saying she is the victim and the subject of prior abuse.

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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Maribel de la Torre. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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