Santa Ana City Council candidate Phil Baccera is in the press this week as a former girlfriend of his has come forward with charges of physical, emotional and mental abuse over the course of their four-year relationship. And with the timing of Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings for the Supreme Court and the #BelieveSurvivors and #MeToo movement afloat, these charges warrant a closer examination.
The rumors have actually been out there for a few weeks now and it’s been interesting to watch the story change from “he beat her up” to “it’s only nasty texts between two people breaking up” back to “he was physically abusive.”
When I first caught wind of this story, I called Phil and asked about it. He denied ever treating any woman in the manner described on social media posts. I’ve known Phil for more than ten years and what I can say about him is that he’s a terrible liar. I take him at his word.
I also remember when Phil dated Griselda Govea; they would come to the “Drinking Liberally” events we sponsored at Memphis in Santa Ana. She was nice, didn’t much care for political discussion and hung out with her friends while we talked shop. She was quite friendly and she was always welcomed by the group. I always thought they were a bit of an odd fit. Griselda, a second woman who’s name I cannot recall whom Phil dated after he and Griselda broke up, and Phil’s wife Wendy shared something in common – I’d bet money on each of them in a fist fight with Phil. They were not shrinking violets and over the course of ten years, when I have seen Phil around women including girlfriends, he never exhibited any behavior that was the slightest bit disrespectful or violent towards anyone. At our DL events, he never had more than one drink – ever.
Phil’s been married for two years now after re-connecting with his wife. The pair had been circling each other for years until their paths crossed once again and both were single. Wendy, Phil’s wife, is a strong woman who values honesty, commitment and integrity. If Phil ever did any of the things Griselda has accused him of to Wendy, she simply would not tolerate it and would put him in his place (and on his ass). She’s known him a long time and would never marry someone with a past that included abuse. So it’s not just Phil’s word, it’s Wendy’s too.
Here’s part of his statement on the matter:
“The accusations that have been made about me and my conduct are totally and completely false. It has been suggested that there are glaring examples of these claims in emails between us. Although I consider the emails about my past relationship to be deeply personal and somewhat embarrassing to share, I want to act in the spirit of transparency. As such, I am willing to share these emails in person. I am not proud of some of the things that I said in these emails, but sharing these emails is the best way to demonstrate that our past relationship has been completely mischaracterized and that the claims are simply not true.”
That all said, I’m prepared to change my mind on Phil’s claim of innocence here if actual evidence appears suggesting otherwise.
The most compelling claim that Griselda made in her social media statement is that this physical and emotional abuse happened in front of witnesses. “There were outside witnesses to this abuse. Caring neighbors and friends, who heard the abuse or witnessed me in a disheveled state, regularly checked up on me concerned, as they were, with my welfare. I have emails and texts from these witnesses. You need not take my word alone concerning these matters. There are individuals who are willing to confirm the above facts.”
If the witnesses are known, they should speak up and describe what they saw. If she has emails and texts, let’s see them. The same goes for him. its what we wanted from the Brett Kavanaugh FBI investigation this past week but did not get.
There’s some speculation that Griselda got help crafting her well-written statement from those who want Phil’s candidacy derailed all while admitting she lacked strong English language skills…no shame in that.
I recall seeing Griselda after she and Phil broke up at a fundraiser at Memphis for John Hanna (she wasn’t part of the party but was with other restaurant customers). I asked how she was and she told me she was fine. There appeared to be no remorse from the break up and she asked me if I thought Phil would attend and I told her I wasn’t sure. There wasn’t a hint of any anger or any clue of alleged mistreatment. I remember asking if she’s be ok if he did appear and she nodded yes. It really wasn’t a big deal.
What I find dreadful is that so many people calling for Phil’s head were quiet as a church mouse when charges against labor leader Julio Perez surfaced. And it’s entirely possible that Griselda is being put up to this by the Pro-Julio crowd in Santa Ana.
Phil was replaced as a longtime planning commissioner earlier this year by Roman Renya, his opponent in Ward 4 who is on the ballot in spite of not having a registered address in the Ward the minimum number of days prior to filing and has no experience in planning. Councilmember David Benevides made the change after Phil looked into the paperwork the business filed with the city; Benevides also sought to honor the new restaurant in which Julio Perez has an interest in and presence in – sometimes behind the bar.
Perez was fired by a unanimous vote as head of the OC Labor Fed after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and/or sexual abuse. He wiped his tablet and laptop to factory settings to “erase” evidence or perhaps his browser history. And more details have emerged about the investigation via conversations; when you hear about what he did, it would turn your stomach. What should make you angry are the number of “progressives” and FOJ (Friends of Julio) who have yet to comment on his behavior or actions with any sort of condemnation.
Our “friends” at the OrangeJuiceBlog are playing up the Baccera story in a classic case of rank hyprocisy. Vern Nelson, who has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting Anaheim’s Lorri Galloway, writes: Phil has had a very serious-sounding #metoo allegation launched against him by his former 4-year girlfriend Griselda Govea, and this will certainly be the only OC blog to print it. Why do I say that? Because Phil and Dan Chmielewski of the ironically-dubbed “Liberal OC” have been very close friends forever, and Dan doesn’t have many friends.
Well, I do have quite a few friends pendejo, but that’s only the second wrong thing you wrote in your statement.
Nelson, of course, denied Galloway’s allegations challenging her on a number of talking points knowing she has confidentiality clauses that prohibit her offering more detail. If you accuse Vern of anything, he’s fast to threaten a defamation lawsuit. And as a defense of his publisher, Greg Diamond left a comment on this blog claiming Vern had exhibited “lecherous behavior” which doesn’t make Nelson a champion of the #MeToo movement.
And speaking of Diamond, his defense of Julio Perez and redefinition of what is “porn” remains unaddressed. He left this comment on the Bacerra story:
I get skeeved out whenever I hear a man accused of abuse saying “I have never raised my hand to a woman.” I keep picturing them elbowing them in the face, kicking them in the butt, and sitting on their chest while screaming at them.My suggestion to hose (sic) accused of physical violence: find a phrase that doesn’t sound like you feel clever for having figured out a way to tell what is technically a literal truth while hiding what is unquestionably an assault.
I asked Donna Acevedo-Nelson once how she got that black eye in the fall of 2014, fearing that her then-boyfriend now husband gave it to her; she said “Nunya.”
“Nunya?” I replied.
“Nunya business,” she answered. I’ve heard neighbors on Anna Drive know exactly what happened. I asked Vern once and he threatened to sue me.
Ricardo Toro also chimed in with some posts supporting Julio Perez and suggesting Lorri Galloway “fabricated” her allegation of sexual assault against Vern Nelson.
Here’s the links; not exactly favorable to the #believesurvivors and #timesup crowd.
Not exactly a champion of abused women, are they?
The OC Weekly has an online story and it’s mostly Griselda’s point of view; and the story is a fair one because writer Gabriel San Roman included both sides. Both Phil and Griselda have emails that can shed more light on the case. They ought to release them to the public.
While gathering information for this post, I have been reminded that if we’re all rallying behind the #BelieveSurvivors hashtag, and I generally do, should we have to take a closer look into allegations of physical assault and mental abuse of DPOC Central Committee member Victor Valladares ex-wife, Breannia Lalama, who filed police reports and left photographic evidence of bruises she says were inflicted upon her by the now ex-husband? I’m not sure what happened to the charges, but she tells mutual friends she still fears for her safety.
She spoke before the OSVD School Board to report on the abuse she says she suffered and you can see the clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ohuC8gGo4c
Valladares isn’t a candidate for office, but is working on several campaigns.
Evidence and facts please. Credibility matters too.