State Sen. Russell Pearce (R-AZ) penned SB 1070, the legislation credited for the current anti-immigration law in Arizona. The Senator’s misguided efforts to protect America from the perceived threat of immigrants seems awkward when you consider that he doesn’t afford women the same protections against domestic violence. Pearce fought against stiffer penalties for men who assault pregnant women, protected men from restraining orders in cases of domestic violence and has stood against expanded safety measures for women. The Senator’s views on domestic violence seem to grow out of his own personal experiences after being accused of breaking down his first wife’s door and physically assaulting his second wife, according to published reports and court documents.
From a report on Political Correction:
1974: Pearce Broke Down His Wife’s Front Door. According to a 1974 police report, Russell Pearce went to his estranged wife’s apartment and enlisted the help of building manager Angel Romero in gaining access to her:
“Pearce said that he has known for some time that his wife has been having an affair with and furnishing beer to Burden,” reads the report, typed up by an Officer Myers. “He said that tonight he had caught her and he wanted charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor filed against her. He mentioned that this would aid him in getting custody of their children.”
…Romero said that Pearce had identified himself as a deputy Sheriff, and claimed that he wanted to check on his wife’s well being.
“Romero said he told Russell that he did not want to let him in,” the report states, “but that Russell said he was Karen’s legal husband and that he had a right to go in and check on her.”
So Romero accompanied Pearce to the door of Karen’s apartment. (They were living in separate residences at this time.) And that’s when all hell broke loose. Romero told Mesa police that he unlocked the door, but there was a chain lock on it. Pearce then “hit the door pulling the chain lock screws from the jamb and barged into the apartment.” He searched the place, but no one was present save for his wife.
“Romero said that there was no one else in the apartment and that it became clear to him that Russell’s only purpose for entering the apartment was to attempt to catch Karen with someone else,” wrote Officer Myers. “Romero was upset because Russell had broken the chain lock. Also, a hole had been knocked in the hollow core door and Romero believes Russell did that when he hit the door. Small broken pieces of the door were on the walk directly below the door.”
Romero and Pearce argued about the door, with Romero claiming that Pearce busted it up, and Pearce countering that the door’s damage was due to the door being “cheap.” [...]
“Romero and his wife complained of Russell spending a great deal of time in the apartment building parking lot,” Myers stated in the document. “They said that he comes around the apartments often in his patrol car and parks to try to catch Karen with someone.”
February 1980: Pearce’s Second Wife Filed For Divorce, Citing Abuse
AZ State Senator Russell Pearce Was Accused Of Domestic Violence. According to the Arizona Republic: “In a public document dated 1980 the state representative’s [now state senator's] wife Luanne wants a divorce and goes on to claim Russell [Pearce] often beats her and shoves her. One incident in February details a clash at their former Mesa home where Luanne says Russell grabbed her by the throat and threw her down. Pearce did not comment on the document.” [Arizona Republic, 7/23/08]
February 1980: Lu Anne Pearce Filed For Divorce Citing A Physical Attack By Russell Pearce, Before Case Was Dropped. On February 5, 1980, Lu Anne Pearce filed for “dissolution of marriage” from Russell Pearce with the “Superior Court of the State of Arizona.” The document read, in part: “Further, the husband, RUSSELL KEITH PEARCE, is possessed of a violent temper, and has from time to time hit and shoved the wife, the last time being on February 3rd, when he grabbed the wife by the throat and threw her down.” [Maricopa County, AZ Superior Court, Page 4, 2/5/80]
Sen. Pearce’s legislative history on domestic abuse:
Would Have Made Obtaining An Order Of Protection Harder And More Dangerous. According to the Associated Press: “A bill scheduled to be heard next week by a House committee could make it harder – and allegedly more dangerous – to obtain orders of protection against domestic violence. The bill (HB2472) also would make other significant changes to laws on domestic violence, including adding a new requirement for jury trials in abuse cases and making certain non-violent acts no longer qualify as grounds for judges to issue orders of protection. The legislation also would prohibit the people who take out the orders from disobeying the orders’ terms.” [Associated Press, 2/8/02, via LexisNexis]
The Associated Press reported:
“Orders of protection typically require a person to avoid contact with another person, usually a spouse or partner, often by prohibiting them from going to a residence and work place. Advocates for domestic violence victims argue that the orders help protect women who have been abused or likely face abuse, particularly if they are breaking off a relationship. However, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, argues that the current system is too one-sided, allowing abuses in which a wife may get an order by making false allegations against her husband merely to get a leg up in divorce or child-custody proceedings.” [Associated Press, 2/8/02, via LexisNexis; emphasis added]
2002: Pearce Voted Against Increasing Penalties For Assaulting Pregnant Women. According to the Arizona Republic, in 2002 Pearce “was the lone vote against a bill that would increase the sentence for anyone accused of beating a pregnant woman.” [Arizona Republic, 7/23/08, emphasis added]
- Arizona SB 1050 Enhanced Sentences For Those Committing Violence Against Pregnant Women. According to the 2002 Arizona State Legislature: “SB 1050 makes changes to inconsistencies in statutes that prescribe when a modified injunction against harassment or order of protection is effective. The bill also makes clarifying changes to enhanced sentencing for domestic violence crimes against pregnant victims.” Including a provision distinguishing “between the sentence enhancement allowed for domestic violence misdemeanors and felonies when the victim is pregnant.” [AZLeg.State.AZ.us, SB 1050, 4/17/02]
2002: Pearce Voted Against A Provision That Would Have Kept AZ Compliant With The Violence Against Women’s Act. The Arizona Republic reported that “in 2002 [Pearce] voted against a bill that would eliminate the fees for orders of protection for victims. This bill had to pass in order for Arizona to be compliant with Federal law, the Violence Against Women’s Act.” [Arizona Republic, 7/23/08, emphasis added]
- Arizona SB 1394 Removed Fee Required To Obtain An Order Of Protection. According to the 2002 Arizona State Legislature, SB 1394 “Removes service of process fees for all orders of protection and injunctions against harassment.” The history of the legislation was included as: “The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) requires that fees for service of process on all orders of protection and injunctions against harassment be statutorily removed in order to ensure continued federal funding of Arizona programs after October 2002. Last year Arizona received an estimated $6.5 million in VAWA monies.” [AZLeg.gov, SB 1394, 5/9/02]