In an effort to clear his name of allegations that he roughed up his ex-girlfriend and former campaign manager, Rep. Daniel Patterson turned over documents today alleging the woman has a criminal history involving drugs, domestic violence and theft, and was barred from practicing law in California.
The Tucson Democrat said his attorney hired a private investigator to look into the past of Georgette Escobar after she took out a restraining order against him last week, claiming that Patterson pulled her from her car and threw her to the ground.
The incident prompted Democrats this week to swiftly call for his resignation and file an ethics complaint against him, saying he has demonstrated a pattern of violent behavior.
In 2010, Patterson’s then-wife accused him of domestic violence as part of a bitter divorce battle, but he was never charged with a crime.
The lawmaker’s attorney, Joe St. Louis, hired a private investigator to dig into Escobar’s past. In a notarized affidavit, private investigator Kenneth Dagostino said the woman in 2008 changed her name from Lisa Irene Fochetti to Georgette Irene Escobar.
The investigator said Escobar’s criminal history includes a 2000 conviction of domestic violence and a 2002 conviction of vehicle theft that involved charges of drug possession.
Escobar could not immediately be reached for comment. A message left with St. Louis also was not immediately returned.
The allegations of Escobar’s past domestic violence conviction are found in court records detailing her disbarment recommendation by the State Bar of California. At the time, the disciplinary action involved her earlier legal name of Fochetti.
The documents say she was convicted of spousal battery in 2000.
“A former attorney for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Fochetti argued with her husband over two days when he tried to take away her gun and her car keys. Fochetti’s doctor had instructed her husband to take away his wife’s firearms for her safety. During the argument, she bit her husband’s right shoulder,” according to the State Bar of California documents. “Fochetti’s husband told police his wife had a drug problem and had left a rehab program without permission.”
Patterson said his lawyer independently hired the private investigator to look into Escobar’s past.
“That’s just something my lawyer did. It wasn’t something I asked him to do,” the lawmaker said.
When asked why he released the documents to the press, Patterson said: “Because I think it’s extremely relevant to the credibility of my accuser.”
Rep. Katie Hobbs, who filed the ethics complaint against Patterson, said even if Escobar has a history of domestic violence, it doesn’t necessarily absolve Patterson of any abusive behavior.
“Even if all these things happened, it doesn’t make what he did to her right,” said Hobbs, D-Phoenix, a social worker who was employed for a decade at a Phoenix shelter for women who were victims of domestic violence.
Hobbs said it’s possible that both Patterson and Escobar were physically violent.
“It’s just so typical of what abusive people do,” Hobbs said of trying to shift the blame to the accuser.
Arizona News Service Editor Jim Small contributed to this report.