A man is dead after fighting with his wife, and David Pisarra asks some uncomfortable questions.
On the eve of the National Domestic Violence Awareness month Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo was shot to death by his wife after a domestic dispute. The Los Angeles Times reported that Crespo’s brother William said the fight was over Daniel’s spending habits and that Levette Crespo, the alleged murderess, wouldn’t let the victim sleep. A subsequent update quoted Levette Crespo’s attorneys as saying that there had been a long history of domestic violence in the home.
William Crespo recalled his brother telling him: “‘She’s over here fighting that I spend too much money.'” He also described his brother as being “really tired” after having worked days and nights. “She won’t let him sleep,” William Crespo said of his brother’s wife, Levette.
In today’s environment of zero tolerance for all types of domestic abuse, which ranges from the economic abuse of not allowing a spouse adequate funds to provide for themselves or the family, to an ongoing harassment campaign, it is reasonable to conclude that there was an environment of domestic abuse happening in the Crespo home. And it is also reasonable (though not popular) to ask, given William Crespo’s statements, if Mrs. Crespo might have been the abuser.
Domestic abuse is frequently tolerated by men since frequently the police will not do anything about it, and there are few if any resources for men seeking help. The current climate of awareness in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic abuse video should be bringing to light the endemic problem of violence between couples, not just male on female violence.
Yet there is almost complete silence about yet another man being murdered by his female partner.
When I called the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and asked why Mrs. Crespo had been released from custody, the male deputy said he didn’t know, but postulated that her killing her husband was “self-defense.”
Mrs. Crespo’s attorney is saying it was self-defense and a case of battered woman’s syndrome. Bear with me, but isn’t calling it self-defense equivalent to blaming the victim? In other words, Daniel Crespo brought his killing on himself through his actions? Blaming the victim doesn’t work in cases of rape, and it doesn’t work in male on female domestic abuse, so why would it be considered a possible excuse for a man’s death? If the man had been threatening the woman’s life, killing him in self-defense would be a viable and acceptable response. While we don’t have all the facts, it does not appear from preliminary reports that Levette Crespo’s life, or the life of the couple’s 19-year old son, was in danger, yet Mrs. Crespo was the one who went and got the gun.
Here’s what has been reported so far: A husband and wife got into a verbal altercation, their 19-year-old son decided to jump in and take on his father, who punched him, the wife went to another room and got the husband’s gun, and she returned and shot her husband multiple times. For the shooting to be considered to be self-defense, the husband would have to have been attempting to kill the wife or the son. For it to be defense of the son on the mother’s part—a possible theory—the father would have to have been attempting to kill the son. It was, however, the son who attacked the father, presumably to break up the altercation with the mother. Threats to the life of the mother or son have, at this point, not been substantiated. In any of the above scenarios, there was domestic violence as defined by the California Family Code.
I, for one, am curious why Mrs. Crespo who had the presence of mind to leave the room, go find the gun, and return to the scene of the fight to shoot her husband. She could have left the room and called the police. She could have left the home and taken their son with her. Why did she feel it was necessary to shoot her husband? And why did she shoot him not once but three times? These questions lead to other questions about how this case is being handled by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
As of this time, Levette Crespo has been released and no criminal charges are being filed against her. The message the Sheriff’s department seems to be sending is that a woman can kill a man, claim a history of abuse and that she acted in self-defense, and be allowed to go home. Imagine the same scenario for a man. Imagine a man claiming a history of abuse and that he killed his wife, shot her three times, in self-defense. You can’t, because it is virtually unimaginable. And yet, statistics show that men are the victims in approximately 40% of domestic violence cases and women are frequently the aggressors.
Senator Dianne Feinstein is a vocal advocate against domestic violence, but she has yet to respond to my request for comment about the Crespo killing. Previously she has stated, “I believe very strongly that if a [NFL] player is arrested, they should be suspended, and if they are convicted, that ends it.” I look forward to hearing the Senator’s opinion on Mrs. Crespo being held for questioning, admitting to shooting and killing her husband, being released without being arrested.
Senator Feinstein has also commented that female senators are “surprised, amazed and very resolute to do something” to force the NFL to act more assertively on domestic violence allegations. “These teams need to set an example for the rest of society,” Feinstein said. “There has to be a strength in the league to project the values of what’s right and what’s wrong.”
It strikes me that in fairness, with all the information not yet available, The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department should at least consider Mrs. Crespo a suspect. They are not, nor have they responded to my request for comment. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office also has “No comment,” since according to their media relations office, “We have no case yet. The investigation is still ongoing.”
A man is dead after fighting with his wife. A situation that in all likelihood had she called the police or the sheriff would have ended differently, with the man still alive and probably in jail. Mrs. Crespo didn’t take the path of least aggression. She didn’t do what we tell men all the time to do, walk away, call the police, get help. And the message from the justice system seems to be, that for a woman, that path is OK. That a history of abuse, if there was one, justifies the killing.
This type of gender bias concerns me greatly a society that values equality. The silence of the domestic violence lobby in a case such as this comes across as a repeat of the Travis Alexander murder. In that case, Jodi Arias almost beheaded her boyfriend in the shower, stabbed him multiple times, and then put a bullet in his head and claimed “self-defense.” The press refers to that case as a “murder” but ignores the domestic violence angle entirely. Is it because women aren’t perceived as being capable of domestic violence? Is it because no one wants to admit that women can be just as violent as men?
Gender equality extends to women who are just as capable as men when it comes to serving in the armed forces, being as first responders, and playing professional sports in groups such as the Women’s Basketball Association, Women’s Boxing Association, and the Women’s MMA. To suggest that when it comes to domestic violence, a woman is incapable of being aggressive and hurting a man sets a double standard that doubly victimizes abused men.
Abuse is wrong no matter who hurts whom. Regardless of the Crespo case, men need to learn what an abusive relationship is, and they have to learn to seek help when they are in one. We need to be empowering men to stop violence across the board; both as perpetrators, and as victims.
The hashtag #HurtWomenHurtMen is being used to bring awareness to the problem of female on male abuse. This is a problem that is not going away unless we talk about it and confront it. If you are concerned, too, please use the hashtag and join the conversation.