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Sex scandals involving city council members shock S. California residents

07-09-2012 13:14 BJT

LOS ANGELES, July 8 (Xinhua) -- City council members having extramarital affairs among themselves and with a police sergeant are facing a recall in San Fernando, Southern California.

The sex scandals involving city council members and police officers were first revealed last November in San Fernando, a small city with a population of 23,000 and an area of 2.5 square miles.

It shocked local residents again on Saturday when two city council members, Mario Hernandez and Maribel de la Torre, who claimed to have an affair with each other, filed restraining orders against each other following an alleged physical confrontation on June 28.

According to a police report, a police officer responding to a call at Hernandez's home found the residence had been ransacked and noticed red marks and scratches on the councilman's neck.

The court ordered Hernandez and de la Torre to stay 100 yards away from each other, which, however, could prove problematic at next week's city council meeting, because city council members have to sit side by side.

Last November, Hernandez, who was then acting as mayor, publicly admitted that he was having an affair with de la Torre.

But now the two lovers have become enemies when De La Torre's attorney said Hernandez "molested" his former lover on June 28.

Hernandez denied it in a statement Saturday after the restraining order. "Those that mock this private issue, shame on them, because domestic violence is not a laughing matter," he said.

De la Torre stated in an e-mail that "words cannot begin to express how saddened I am over the events of the past several days. I would like to address the allegations." But her attorney said she was unable to comment due to the pending court hearing on July 24.

Worse still, the scandal-plagued city is now in turmoil because of the struggles among the council members at the cost of the benefits of its residents.

On July 2, the City Council fired the latest interim police chief, Gil Carrillo, during a closed-door meeting, less than four months into his six-month contract.

Carrillo said the dismissal came out of the blue. "They wanted a 'yes' man, and I'm not a 'yes' man," he told the press.

The city has had an outsized share of scandals in the past few years, both in the police department and on the city council.

An ex-police cadet filed a lawsuit, alleging she had an affair with the city's former police chief, Tony Ruelas. An acting police chief, Jeff Eley, was accused of fixing a traffic ticket for a congressman's aide.

Brenda Esqueda, mayor of the city now and city councilwoman at that time, was accused of having an affair with a married police sergeant.

Residents in the city have taken actions to collect signatures for a recall to oust three members of the city council, including the mayor.

Organizers say the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder has certified their petitions to oust Esqueda and council members Hernandez and de la Torre.

They were told they have enough valid signatures to prompt a recall election to oust the three members.

Recall organizers have accused them of financial mismanagement of the city and involvement of sex scandals.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Xinhua

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