HOUSTON—Women who are victims of domestic violence are often too intimidated to speak out, and too scared to run. When the abusive husband works in law enforcement, those who work with abuse victims say the situation can be even worse.
After years of abuse, Stephanie Biersdorfer’s husband put her in the hospital. That’s when she divorced him. Then, she said, another kind of abuse began.
“They started the investigation in November and they didn’t do charges on it until March,” Biersdorfer said of the abuse case against her then husband.
Biersdorfer’s husband, Jonathan Guimbellot, was a Harris County Constable Precinct 4 dispatcher and in training to be a reserve deputy.
“They know how to restrain. They know how to throw you around. They know how to hurt you and he did, really, really bad,” she said.
She claims her husband got special treatment. Domestic violence experts say it happens all the time.
“That ‘Blue Wall’ it’s just a term to talk about how they protect each other,” said Leticia Manzano, the counseling manager at the Houston Area Women’s Center.
Authorities in Precinct Four said Guimbellot did not get any special treatment from them. They investigated him, fired him and said they filed assault charges against him. In court, the Harris County prosecutor offered Guimbellot a deal, dropping his felony charge to a misdemeanor. He got two years probation. The prosecutor told us that’s common for first-time offenders. Neither Guimbellot nor his attorneys would comment.
In response to domestic violence cases in general, most major departments now have specialized Family Violence Units. Manzano said the Houston Police Department’s works wonders when the abusers work in law enforcement.
“With regard to the Houston Police Department, we have been very successful in working with them when it’s one of the Houston police officers,” she said.
“If it’s our police officer, the only thing we do differently is we expedite the case,” said Sgt. Billy Barron of the Houston Police Department.
Across the board, authorities have the same advice for abused women—whether their husbands work in law enforcement or not.
“Call the police. Get out,” Sgt. Barron said.
Biersdorfer finally did.
“(I’m) just looking forward to me and my kids having a good life,” she said.