“Torture” isn’t a criminal charge that you hear about very often, even in cases where it probably applies. However, California law specifically introduced a provision in its penal code to address this form of violence in an effort to get tougher on crime. While legislators probably were thinking more about gang violence and drug dealers at the time, the law can also be applied to domestic violence situations.
When it is, it can have serious ramifications for the defendant who is convicted of torturing his or her spouse—which is the unfortunate lesson that one University of California professor is now learning.
The UC Riverside psychology professor was just sentenced to a term of nine years to life for a combination of crimes against his spouse, including spousal abuse, criminal threats and torture causing great bodily harm. He was apparently upset that she had gone to Temecula with friends without telling him first.
After verbally berating her, he followed his wife into their bedroom. Sensing the danger, the wife had the foresight to turn on the recording device on her smartphone, to have evidence of what happened next.
Forcing her face down in a pillow, the professor choked his wife several times over the course of twenty minutes. He also threatened to break bones and bent her fingers back, causing her extreme pain.
She eventually broke free, escaped and hid until she could get to someplace to call 911. She was left with extreme bruising and swelling on her face for a month, and she couldn’t consume solid food for a week due to the injuries to her throat.
California’s penal codes describe torture as an intentional act, designed to inflict cruel or extreme pain and suffering on the victim for just about any purpose. It also has to inflict “great bodily injury,” which would include things like the ongoing headaches, memory loss and vocal problems that the victim still suffers.
While no domestic violence charge should ever be taken lightly, anyone charged with torture in connection with domestic violence should seek immediate legal representation. The torture charge automatically carries the possibility of a life sentence—which is far more than the usual punishment faced during normal domestic violence cases, which are more likely to involve mandatory counseling, minimal jail time and fines instead.
Source: Temecula Patch, “UCR Professor Beat, Tortured Wife After She Visited Temecula: Trial Testimony,” Patch CA (Patch Staff), Dec. 28, 2016