Los Angeles News

San Fernando councilwoman talks, won't step down

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A San Fernando city councilwoman charged with battery and vandalism spoke out for the first time outside a courthouse on Thursday.

Maribel De La Torre and former councilmember Mario Hernandez appeared in court for an arraignment hearing, but it was postponed to Aug. 21.

De La Torre is charged with two misdemeanors stemming from a fight with Hernandez. Both were thrust into the spotlight at a council meeting when Hernandez announced that he was having an affair with De La Torre. His wife was at the meeting.

Then there was apparently a fight between them, which resulted in mutual restraining orders, and battery and vandalism charges against De La Torre. She promptly surrendered to police.

Since that time, De La Torre and Hernandez have been talking, and both have asked the D.A. to drop the restraining orders against each other.

In court on Thursday, the restraining orders were dropped, and De La Torre's bail of $21,000 was dropped. There is still a protective order against De La Torre, which means she and Hernandez can still talk and see each other, but she is not allowed to stalk or harass him, and she cannot have a firearm.

Hernandez presented the court with a statement that said that he refused to testify in a criminal case against De La Torre. He has said publicly that police manipulated him into filing a restraining order against her, and that the case was mishandled. De La Torre's lawyer Robert Steinberg agrees with Hernandez.

"All I know is, they've suspended one of the officers and put him on administrative leave, and they're looking at another one now," he said.

After the court proceedings, De La Torre spoke to the media, saying she is not guilty, and that she would take the case to trial if the D.A.'s office pursues the case.

"We look forward to the trial so that the real story can be told, and so that I can be exonerated of the charges brought before me," she said.

De La Torre emphasized that she planned to stay in office. Hernandez resigned earlier this month.

"It is unfortunate and sad that a very personal and private matter such as this has taken this venue and has ended up in the media the way that it has," she said. "It's very unfortunate."

There is a motion for a change of venue after three judges have recused themselves from the case.

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legal, los angeles news, rudabeh shahbazi
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