District Attorney Drops Domestic Abuse Charges Against Norby

Norby Booking Photo - Cropped
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The Orange County district attorney’s office has dropped domestic violence charges against former GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby, saying there isn’t evidence to prosecute, according to Norby’s lawyer.

The deputy district attorney handling the issue “didn’t believe he had a case he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” said attorney David Borsari. “There won’t be any criminal prosecution.”

Christopher Ayala, the lawyer for Norby’s estranged wife, Martha, said the DA “could decide not to file at this moment, but they have up to a year to file” if new evidence comes to light.

The DA’s office did not return a call seeking a comment.

Norby, 64, was arrested March 12 by Fullerton police after his wife, Martha, filed domestic violence charges against him. It was the second time in four years she complained to the police about abusive treatment she said she received from the former Fullerton mayor, county supervisor and member of the Assembly.

Norby, who was bailed out of jail by Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson, also a former Fullerton mayor, in turn accused his wife of being the abuser. Both have said the other is “bipolar.”

The Norbys have a son Jonathan, who turns 3 in May. Martha Norby, 36, has three older children from a previous marriage. This is the fourth marriage for Chris Norby, and a hearing on his right to visit Jonathan is scheduled for May 2.

After Norby’s arrest, several of his friends said they had been concerned for quite a while about what they viewed as Martha abusing Chris, not the other way around.

Tony Bushala, a prominent Fullerton political player, said in 2010 he saw Martha throw a TV remote at Chris in an argument over turning off the TV before the end of the Rose Bowl game.

“While he’s on the floor trying to put it (the remote) together, she yells—‘you hit me, I call the police!’ Chris hadn’t laid a finger on her. I told Chris that day, he has a problem and told him that I wished the best for him,” Bushala wrote in a March 17 email to news organizations, among others.

In September 2010, a delivery man told police he saw then Assemblyman Norby push Martha during an argument. After investigating, the DA’s office declined to prosecute, and Martha told Voice of OC in a telephone interview that Norby never hit her, even though the police report said “female advised male pushed her.”

At the time, Martha was pregnant with their son.

In the interview, she described herself as “a very sentimental woman.”

“Like any couple, we were arguing,” she said. “But it wasn’t physical violence. My husband has never put a hand on me. I’m a very direct woman, and I wouldn’t lie. I don’t know why they called the police.”

Asked directly by a reporter if he ever hit his wife, Chris Norby replied: “That’s simply untrue. I never have hit her at anytime in my life.”

But as part of the latest accusations, court documents quote Martha as saying Chris Norby forced her to make those statements to reporters: “He called the media and told me to tell them that I was crying because I am very emotional. He forced me to say that to the media. and I told them what he told me to say because I was afraid.”

According to Bushala’s note to reporters, on Dec. 17, 2013, Martha hit Chris in the left eye. Instead of going to a doctor, a friend took Chris Norby to someone he knew who had been a military medic in Iraq. When Norby’s eye problems continued, he went, a week later, to an eye clinic near his friend’s house in Lakewood.

Bushala said Chris didn’t file an abuse report with police “not wanting family disruption and hoping — obviously in vain— that he could continue with his violent and abusive wife.”

In her court records report on what happened that day, Martha asserted: “He sexually abused me on December 17, 2013 and verbally abuses me in front of the baby and my children. … He grabbed me by my shoulders and threw me to the ground. He forced my underwear off and sexually abused me while calling me a whore. He said that I was his wife and that he could do whatever he wanted with me. He then told me that is what I deserved for being a bitch. I tried to defend myself and hit him on his face.”

In her domestic violence report, Martha, who is from Honduras but is a U.S. citizen, also declared: “He abuses me every day; he insults me and calls me a fucken [sic] bitch. He says I do not speak good English and tells his friends to have sex with me. …”

And finally on the day Norby was arrested, according to the court records, Martha was with their son, and Chris “got upset and started arguing with me and tried taking my son. I lefts [sic] the kitchen and he pushed me with force with the side of his shoulder. I went outside and he continued harassing me while I was watering the flowers. He was yelling at me and my son was shaking of fear because I had him in my arms.”

In Bushala’s account of the same incident, “On the day he was falsely [sic] charged, his wife had turned a garden hose on him, hitting again his left high [sic] with a high-powered stream increasing the pain and flashes.”

Borsari, Chris Norby’s lawyer, said he was “particularly pleased” that the DA’s office told him they followed through and checked out information he supplied about the doctor’s report on Norby’s eye, among other things.

Please contact Tracy Wood directly at twood@voiceofoc.org and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/tracyVOC.

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