California Assembly Member Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) is under pressure to take a leave of absence after being accused of domestic violence by his wife.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), the chair and co-chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus, urged Hernandez to temporarily step down from his legislative duties while the case is pending.
"Domestic violence is an important issue that this Legislature has worked hard to address through awareness and statewide legislation," Jackson and Garcia said in a joint statement Thursday. "In the wake of the serious allegations against Assemblymember Roger Hernández, we believe he should step down from his committee assignments and his position as chair of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee while his case is pending in court and take a leave of absence."
"While a determination is still pending on these most recent allegations and we respect his right to due process," the statement continues, "it’s important that the Legislature send a strong and consistent message to victims about our commitment to confronting domestic violence and demonstrate that we take allegations seriously when they occur among one of our own."
Hernandez is the chair of the state Assembly's labor and employment committee and is challenging longtime U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D) for her seat in Congress.
Last week, a Los Angeles judge issued a restraining order against Hernandez after his wife, Baldwin Park City Councilmember Susan Rubio, accused him of physically assaulting her on multiple occasions. (Hernandez and Rubio are in the process of getting a divorce.)
"My hope is that by speaking out I can encourage at least one woman to speak up," Rubio told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune earlier this month.
Hernandez was previously investigated for domestic violence in 2012 after a former girlfriend accused him of whipping her with a belt. Prosecutors declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence, and the accuser later dropped the lawsuit. Hernandez also faced two harassment lawsuits while serving as a city councilman in West Covina. Both of those cases were settled by the city.
In a statement provided to The Huffington Post, Hernandez denied any wrongdoing and said he intends to "continue to do the work I was elected to do."
"Ms. Garcia and Ms. Jackson are entitled to their opinion," he said. "I respect their opinion, but I also respect due process of law. I am very heartened to have the support of so many of my female and male colleagues across party lines."
Napolitano's campaign had no comment on the allegations against Hernandez.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.