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Female Assistant Attorney General Pleads Guilty in Wife-Beating Case

An Oregon Assistant Attorney General (AAG) who defends against prisoners’ appeals in criminal cases was recently arrested for punching and strangling her wife; she entered treatment and pleaded guilty two weeks later.

On February 12, 2010, AAG Susan R. Gerber, 40, returned home to find that her wife of five years, Janice Dulle, 38, had “started the process of changing the locks” on the couples’ Portland condo.

Dulle confronted Gerber, saying she suspected her of having an affair with another woman. Gerber punched Dulle with a closed fist and demanded a phone that Dulle was holding, according to a locksmith who witnessed the assault. When Gerber pushed Dulle against a wall and choked her, the locksmith called 911.

Responding officers noted red marks on Dulles’ neck and bruises on her arms. She rated her pain a “3” out of “10” and said she couldn’t breathe as Gerber strangled her. But Dulle didn’t want Gerber to be prosecuted.

Even so, Gerber was arrested, booked into jail and released with a “no contact order” that prevented her from returning to the condo.

On February 16, 2010, Gerber was arraigned on charges of fourth-degree assault, harassment and strangulation. Her attorney, Michael De Muniz, son of Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul De Muniz, informed the court that Gerber did not personally appear at the arraignment because she had checked herself in to in-patient treatment for depression.

Dulle’s attorney, Patrick Sweeney, attended the arraignment and asked the court to lift the no-contact order because Dulle wanted to visit Gerber at the treatment center. The request was denied.

On March 5, 2010, Gerber pleaded guilty to attempted fourth-degree assault. If she attends anger management classes and obeys other court orders for 14 months, the conviction will be dismissed under a deferred sentencing program.

Attorney Jason Thompson, who also represented Gerber, told the court that the physical altercation was “mutual” and that “either one of them could have been arrested.” Although Gerber struggled with alcohol abuse in the past, Thompson told the court she was sober and alcohol was not a factor in the altercation.

Gerber had been employed by the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) as an AAG since 2001. Thompson said Gerber is well respected in her field and was looking forward to returning to work.

“She’s been a great asset to the state of Oregon, the Department of Justice, for many years,” Thompson said. DOJ officials, however, declined to comment on Gerber’s employment status. As it turned out, Gerber resigned just one week after pleading guilty, effective April 1, 2010, according to DOJ spokesman Tony Green.

Apparently the incident has been forgiven and forgotten and the no-contact order lifted. Gerber and Dulle did not comment after the March 5 plea hearing, but Dulle kissed Gerber on the cheek and patted her on the back as they left Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Source: The Oregonian

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