Auburn woman pleads not guilty to domestic assault charges

Maria Gonzales-Esquivel, King County Prosecutors say, tortured and assaulted her male housemate and his children for more than two years, sending the man to the hospital at least six times and blinding him partially in his left eye.

Despite his injuries, which included punctured lungs, wounds to his genitals and a broken nose, prosecutors say the man repeatedly covered for his tormentor, insisting that his ex-wife had possessed the woman and that the ex was responsible for the abuse, not Gonzales-Esquivel.

On Tuesday morning, 46-year-old Gonzales-Esquivel pleaded not guilty at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent to five charges of second-degree assault, including assaults against the daughter. She remains in jail on $200,000 bail.

According to King County Sheriff's Detective Robin Cleary, whose write-up forms the basis for the charges, the Sheriff's Office said Gonzales-Esquivel first came to its attention last November when she called to report that an unknown homeless man had dropped the injured housemate off at her house outside of Auburn. Gonzales-Esquivel told the deputy that her housemate had said that two unknown men had robbed and assaulted him.

Medics transported the man to Harborview Medical Center with wounds to his legs, a fractured rib and a "macerated" penis.

Police tried to question him over the phone, but his face was too swollen to speak, according to court documents, and all he could tell a nurse was that his assailants had attacked him in Federal Way. Doctors at Harborview had already treated the same man for several assaults that year.

On Jan. 12, a school counselor reported that the man's daughter had showed up at school with obvious facial injuries, and King County deputies made a welfare check on the home. The girl told deputies that her mother had come to the house with two men to take her siblings, and that two men had assaulted her father at the ex's behest. When the girl tried to help her father, she said, the men turned on her, according to court documents.

In March, doctors again admitted the man to Harborview, this time with a ruptured eyeball and a broken nose.

In mid-July, he was back, this time with serious head injury. Gonzales-Esquivel told investigators that the man had hit his head, charging documents say.

Investigators contacted the ex-wife later that month. She denied that she'd had anything to do with the attacks on her former husband, though she admitted that the two were locked in a custody dispute.

Still the man and his daughter would not implicate Gonzales-Esquivel.

In late April, a school counselor told detectives that one of the boys frequently showed up at the school with "open sores and fresh wounds," charging documents say.

A detective and child services workers met with the children days later, but they described only "a happy home life," denied having seen their father assaulted and insisted that he had never lived at Gonzales-Esquivel's house. Gonzales-Esquivel and the man also denied that he had ever been assaulted at the house.

But last month the man's daughter finally offered to tell investigators what had really been happening at the home, Cleary wrote. The girl said Gonzales-Esquivel had been assaulting her father and had attacked her. According to charging documents, the daughter told investigators that she had been sent to live with Gonzales-Esquivel in 2006 and worked as her "personal assistant" after dropping out of school.

Her father and mother moved in 2009 after being evicted from their own home. After the mother left, the young woman told investigators, the attacks got worse.

The young woman added that Gonzales-Esquivel had been become more and more controlling, that the older woman often beat her with kitchen equipment and forced her to sleep on Gonzales-Esquivel's bedroom floor to keep her apart from the rest of the family. She also said Gonzales-Esquivel was the one responsible for all of her father's injuries. Gonzales-Esquivel's explaination: she was "possessed" by the ex-wife.

Asked why she would come forward after repeatedly lying to investigators, the young woman said she had seen her disabled younger brother "limping more than usual and she was concerned for the welfare of her siblings."

Investigators searched the home Aug. 25, arrested Gonzales-Esquivel and removed all the children. They took the man to the RJC for questioning, where, according to charging documents, he confirmed everything his daughter had told detectives. He said Gonzales-Esquivel had forced him to hold out his hands so she could smash his fingers with a rolling pin, according to charging documents.

On one occasion, he said Gonzales-Esquivel whipped his genitals again and again for several hours, claiming this act would rid him of an infection, according to Cleary's account. According to Cleary's account, she also beat him with a rubber mallet so ferociously she broke one of his ribs and punctured his lungs.

He said she also forced him to eat 20 habanero peppers with no fluids to rid him of herpes, a treatment she allegedly inflicted on the youngsters, too.

Despite that, the man still insisted Gonzales-Esquivel was a good person, at any rate, when his ex wasn't possessing her and animating her limbs.

"He said that she provides him and his children with a home, food, and she pays the bills. ... He felt it was better than everyone being homeless, and he didn't want to return to his ex-wife," Cleary wrote.

The man told Cleary that he had taken many of the beatings to spare his children.

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