Martha Norby, wife of former Assemblyman and county Supervisor Chris Norby, told Voice of OC Thursday that during five years of marriage she has been subjected to repeated verbal and mental abuse as well as the alleged physical abuse for which Norby was arrested Wednesday.
For his part, Chris Norby, backed by Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson, the lawyer who bailed him out of the Fullerton city jail, said it was Martha who was the violent personality.
“I’m the victim here,” said Norby. “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."
But Martha Norby, who said Thursday she is filing for divorce, claimed she’s the victim. “My husband has the bipolar,” she said. “He’s a very mean father, very bad father. He always calls me ‘fucking bitch.’ I don’t know why I married him.”
On Thursday afternoon she went to the office of Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva to get information on community services that may help her. The assemblywoman was out of the office at the time.
“She spoke with me and my case worker, Pam Keller,” said Javiera Cartagena, Quirk-Silva’s district director. “She needed some constituent services, so we treated her like any other constituent.”
Cartagena said they gave her lists of phone numbers of community groups but did not provide specifics to Voice of OC. Ironically, it was Quirk-Silva, a Fullerton Democrat, who defeated Republican Norby when he ran for re-election to the Assembly in 2012.
Martha Norby said she wasn’t violent toward her husband. Instead, she said, “sometimes he hit me. Sometimes he bite my finger. He’s a verbal abuser and a mental abuser.”
The couple have one child born in 2011 and are raising three of Martha Norby's children from a previous marriage. She said that in the past she has sought psychological help for the children.
“My kids have too much trauma,” she said. “I love my kids. I’m a very good mom.”
Martha Norby was born in Honduras and speaks accented English. She said Norby was turning her older children against her, encouraging them to be verbally abusive. Among other things, she said he makes fun of the way she speaks.
“I go file for divorce,” she said. “I go find a job.”
Said Chris Norby in a separate interview, “I’ve been protecting her on all this."
He acknowledged previous incidents when police were 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.”
Chris Norby said the two had an incident a few months ago that resulted in an assault on him that was “medically very damaging.” Another source said the incident resulted in a serious injury to Chris Norby's eye.
But Martha Norby Thursday denied damaging Norby’s eye.
When they had another argument this week, Norby said, he thinks his wife panicked, thinking he would call police and instead alerted police herself.
Nelson, who is an attorney, backed Norby’s story, saying family friends have had concerns about his wife and witnessed instability and physical abuse by Martha for some time.
When asked whether 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 Chris Norby physically abused his wife.
In 2010, the district attorney’s office investigated but decided there was “lack of sufficient evidence” to prosecute Chris Norby after he and his wife acknowledged having an argument, but both denied that 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.
In the latest incident, Chris Norby was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment and domestic violence. No details were released about the child endangerment charge, but generally that section of the law covers acts that may have been witnessed by a child. The district attorney will determine whether to prosecute.
Chris Norby is scheduled to appear in Superior Court, Fullerton, on March 19. He is free on a $10,000 bond.