Okay, so, Rep. Daniel Patterson has been accused of domestic violence by two women, ex-wife Jeneiene Schaffer and ex-girlfriend and campaign manager Georgette Escobar. But a House Ethics investigation revealed that Patterson has been known to exhibit a pattern of menacing behavior toward persons who are not women with whom he has been intimate. You would think that information would spare Schaffer and Escobar from the heavy dose of skepticism routinely heaped on women who accuse prominent men of domestic violence but, no, the important cultural pillar of assuming bitches be lying and crazy unless proven otherwise beyond a shadow of a doubt must be upheld!
Let’s observe how this plays out with Daniel Patterson’s DV accusers:
Jeneiene Schaffer is Patterson’s ex-wife and the mother of their young daughter. She says that throughout their marriage Patterson was verbally and physically violent toward her, with the worst of it beginning when she was 8 months pregnant. During their divorce proceedings Jeneiene sought an order of protection against Daniel. Tucson Weekly reporter Hank Stephenson broke the story of the order of protection back in September, 2010. At that point in time, it was a he said/she said domestic dispute so naturally Patterson worked that to his advantage. He and his supporters flooded the comments section with attacks on both the reporter and Schaffer. Democratic Party leaders discouraged Shaffer’s supporters from coming forward with information that might damage Daniel Patterson’s election chances so close to November.
Schaffer says she has continued to have problems with Patterson, ranging from threats to her to noncompliance with the custodial arrangement. Earlier this week she tried to get another order of protection, but Pima County Court Commissioner Fred Dardis says there wasn’t enough evidence for one, despite Schaffer citing her daughter witnessing Patterson’s violence, concerns over his mental health, and threats that he would kidnap the daughter. An observer at the hearing told me that the ethics investigation report was not brought up at all and that Daniel Patterson’s attorney basically portrayed Schaffer as crazy and lying.
Yep. After all we now know about Patterson and his shocking and scary behavior toward colleagues, legislative staff, and constituents, Jeneiene Schaffer’s testimony is still regarded as untrustworthy by default.
Now let’s consider Georgette Escobar. She is Daniel Patterson’s former girlfriend and campaign manager. Back in February she accused him of assault, claiming Patterson attacked her in front of the home they shared and pulled her from the car onto the ground. She went on the news and showed her bruises. Patterson claimed it was she who assaulted him and that he had damning information about Escobar that would destroy her credibility. A short while later Patterson revealed her history of legal troubles, including a recent arrest in La Paz County for drug possession. And then there’s her Facebook “retraction”, coming out of the blue after Escobar had been unavailable for several days due to her legal situation:
Statement of Georgette Escobar about Daniel Patterson
I had a breakdown recently. I’m now stabilized and working on getting better.
Daniel Patterson never hit or committed domestic violence against me. I never needed an order of protection against him. I’m sorry.
I disagree with the ethics complaint, investigation and charges against him. He should be found innocent.
So here’s a woman who appears to have come straight out of central casting to be the ultimate unsympathetic and un-credible DV victim. But not so fast: News of this statement on Facebook was reported mostly uncritically by several Arizona news outlets for days. There were notable exceptions: Brahm Resnik of Channel 12 expressed reservations about this unexpected recantation, based on prior email exchanges he’d had with Escobar. And Laurie Roberts of the Republic, bless her, reminded everyone of the salient little tidbit that there had been a police report as part of Escobar’s attempt to get an order of protection, where witnesses said they saw Patterson backhand Escobar. Eyewitnesses.
But Escobar told Capitol Media Services on Monday that the words are hers and that she made the decision after “some meditation.” Escobar also said the inquiry against Patterson “is a witch hunt.”
He doesn’t say how she communicated that. Was it in person? On the phone? Via email or Facebook? That would kinda be useful to know, given the questions surrounding Escobar’s Facebook statement and the possibility raised by the ethics investigation that Patterson may have coerced or written it himself. At any rate, the bottom line here is that a lot of Arizona reporters and bloggers have been too eager by half to seize upon Escobar’s legal problems and her possible recantation of the charges. DV victims recant all the time. It’s so common that experts consider it part of the cycle of domestic violence. But there’s really no need for lurid speculation over Georgette Escobar’s personal situation and psyche when there are witnesses to Patterson’s physical violence toward her in the Tucson police report, unless the point is to sow that all-important doubt over women’s testimony. Have those witnesses recanted? Not that I’m aware of. Downplaying actual witnesses while playing up the lying crazy bitch narrative about the victim might be super-fun but it also serves to embolden abusers. I mean, why should abusers worry much about witnesses when they can be secure in the knowledge that their victims will still be scrutinized and discredited?
Honestly, what does it take? Does every act of violence against a woman have to have four male witnesses and proof of her purity before people will believe it happened without a whole lot of reservations?
Azcvoices.com is a network of community bloggers created by The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com and 12 News to highlight diverse viewpoints. Members' opinions do not represent the views of Republic Media.
Bio: I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.