Victoria City Councilman arrested after domestic disturbance

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Oct. 25, 2013 at 5:25 a.m.
Updated Oct. 26, 2013 at 5:26 a.m.

Victoria City Councilman Dr. Andrew Young was arrested Thursday on suspicion of assault by strangulation/family violence, police said Friday.

Young was arrested during the early morning hours Thursday after police received a report of a disturbance at his home in the 800 block of West Commercial Street.

Young, 40, and his wife, 35, were drinking alcohol and got into a verbal argument that escalated, according to a police officer's report.

She told the officer that Young placed his hands around her throat.

She said she scratched Young's face to make him let go because she could not breathe. She added that Young also might have punched her in the face because she felt some pain.

"(She) advised that everything happened so fast that it's hard for her to recall all the events that took place," the officer wrote, noting he observed a large knot forming on the left side of her eye and red marks on or around her neck.

No one was hospitalized, and Young was taken to the Victoria County Jail, Police Chief J.J. Craig said Friday.

Detective Jeff Lehnert is investigating.

"Our department will be presenting the case to the Victoria County district attorney once we obtain all the facts," Craig said.

District Attorney Stephen Tyler could not be reached for comment. The district attorney's office makes the decision about whether to formally charge any suspect.

Young and his wife married in 2005. They have two children.

He released a written statement Friday through his attorney, Clay Cain.

"Like many marriages and families, we have our ups and downs. Right now, we're trying to work through our family issues in ways that will be best for everyone, especially our children," Young wrote. "I ask for your understanding, prayers and privacy as we work to move forward through this difficult time for our family."

Joe Wall, who has represented Young's wife during a previous marriage, also said the couple is still together and working through some stressful times. Wall accompanied her to the jail when Young was released.

He did not know what their argument was about.

"She has not filed anything against her husband and doesn't intend to," Wall said, speaking for her with permission. "She's at the house. They hope people will give them sufficient privacy to get over this little speed bump that a lot of marriages have."

Ginny Stafford, the CEO of the nonprofit Mid-Coast Family Services, said although she does not know the details of the case, victims often recant.

Police can still file charges on behalf of the victim, but without the victim's testimony, getting a conviction in court is difficult, Stafford said.

A woman cannot be compelled to testify against her husband, she said.

"We try to encourage victims to make a decision that's right for them," Stafford said. "Sometimes, you really just have to let the victim take the lead and be patient."

Young defeated incumbent Joe Truman during a runoff election for Super District 5, the southern half of Victoria, in June.

Young earned 54.1 percent of the votes.

He is the co-owner of and a physician at Podiatry Associates of Victoria.

While campaigning, he said he wanted to grow the tax base to catch up on infrastructure projects. He also advocated for more transparency on the City Council.

Assault by strangulation family violence is a third-degree felony.

To be elected to the City Council, one must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen, a Victoria resident for more than a year preceding the election and a qualified voter of the state of Texas, according to the city code.

A person convicted of a felony cannot vote in Texas until that person has fulfilled the terms of the court's sentence, according to the secretary of state's website.

A final felony conviction would change Young's legal standing as a councilman, but City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz could not describe what the process would be if that were to happen.

"It's way too early for us to begin to try to answer those questions. We don't have all the facts in front of us yet. Some bridges we'll have to cross when we get to them," he said.

Gwosdz encouraged the public to remember that people are presumed innocent.

"In this case, that really means is that all we have at this point is an accusation," he said.



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