In the wake of a shocking family murder in Corona, state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) announced he will seek to establish a task force on domestic violence.
He was joined Saturday on a march to the 115th Precinct station house by about two dozen supporters, including local clergy and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst).
Otto Herrarte was arrested Nov. 21 on suspicion of murder after his wife, Edna, and his 14-year-old son, Daniel, were found with their throats slashed in their Corona apartment. When he was arrested, Herrarte allegedly told police that a man inside him named Roberto had committed the murders, the Queens district attorney’s office said.
“She wanted to protect her children, she wanted to protect her [immigration] status,” Peralta said, calling the case “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Peralta cited statistics from the Queens district attorney’s office that indicated domestic violence incidents were up 18 percent this year. The Rev. Marvin Bentley of the Antioch Baptist Church in Corona said a nationwide survey found 40 percent of female parishioners had been involved in abusive relationships at some point in their lives.
Ferreras also evoked the case of Maria De Los Santos, a Woodhaven woman whose bones were found in a suitcase in Forest Park. The dead woman’s family suspects her husband of killing her. Police have not made an arrest in the two-year-old case.
“Every time I think of domestic violence, I think of that,” she said. But she also criticized MTV’s show “Jersey Shore” for posting footage online of a woman being punched by a man at a bar.
Peralta also invoked the misdemeanor assault conviction of state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) for prompting the march. Peralta will challenge Monserrate, who was acquitted of felony assault in the injury of his girlfriend following a December 2008 fight, in the 2010 Democratic primary.
The task force would research domestic violence and discuss new legislation to help crack down on abusers. Peralta said state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) has suggested they discuss the task force when the new legislative session begins in Albany.
The Rev. Patrick Young of the First Baptist Church in East Elmhurst called domestic violence “a quiet problem.”
“We ought to be the voices of speaking up and speaking out for those who are not able to speak up and speak out for themselves,” he said.
East Elmhurst resident Roxie Pringle said she was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 10 years and said education programs for men are crucial to ending the problem.
“You don’t need to physically leave a scar to actually cause abuse,” she said. “By the grace of God I was able to step out on my own, but a lot of women depend on that man and they stay and take that abuse.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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