Ex-Assemblyman Arrested on Domestic Abuse Charges

Norby Booking Photo - Cropped
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Update: Norby’s wife says she’s experienced years of verbal and mental abuse.

Former state Assemblyman Chris Norby was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with “domestic violence” and a misdemeanor count of child endangerment, said Fullerton police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Stuart.

Norby, 64, was released on $10,000 bail and will be arraigned at the north Orange County court in Fullerton on March 19.

According to police records, Norby’s wife, Martha, had “no visible injuries” but made the allegation to officers of domestic violence. The district attorney’s office will decide whether to prosecute.

Reached for comment, an emotional Norby – who was bailed out last night by Orange County Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson – said his relationship with his wife had been strained for years, indicating that it was he who had been subject to abuse from his wife.

“I’m the victim here,” said Norby, a Republican who represented the 72nd Assembly District, was a county supervisor and mayor of Fullerton.

“I’ve never laid a finger on her. I’ve been subject to abuse – physical, emotional and financial – over the past few years…she’s extremely bipolar.”

Martha Norby could not be reached for comment.

“I’ve been protecting her on all this,” said Norby acknowledging previous incidents with police being called to their home. “I don’t wish her any harm but she’s caused a lot of harm to her family…filing a false police report is a very serious thing.”

Norby said the two had an incident a few months that produced an assault on him that was “medically, very damaging.” Another source said the incident resulted in a serious injury to Norby’s eye.

When they had another argument this week, Norby said he thinks his wife panicked, thinking he would call police and alerted police herself instead.

Nelson, who is an attorney, backed Norby’s story, saying family friends have had concerns about his wife and witnessed instability and physical abuse for some time.

When asked if Norby abuses his wife, Nelson was adamant.

“I know he doesn’t. No way. His biggest mistake is that Chris has too good a heart and doesn’t know when to leave a relationship. I know Chris to be the most humble soul. He’s a lot of things. But he is not a violent guy.”

Nelson continued: “I’m in an awkward spot…I know what’s going on and the only option is to make it look like I’m picking on his spouse…but I know, and when I say I know, tensions flaring is not an uncommon occurrence, and it’s consistent that it’s one sided, and it does not involve Chris. And I think Chris has done far more to hang in there because he has a child than I would.”

It’s the second time in two years Fullerton police have been called to the Norby home to investigate reports he physically abused his wife, Martha.

In 2010, the district attorney’s office investigated but said there was “lack of sufficient evidence” to prosecute Norby after he and his wife acknowledged having an argument but denied he hit her.

Police had been called by a man making a delivery to a nearby home who said he saw Norby push his then-pregnant wife.

The Sept. 2, 2010 police report indicates Martha Norby initially confirmed she was struck but later publicly denied it.

This is Norby’s fourth marriage. He and Martha have one child born in 2011 and there are also raising Martha’s three children from a previous marriage.

No details were released about the misdemeanor child endangerment charge, but generally that section of the law covers acts that may have been witnessed by a child.

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