Legal actions involving Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) have seen an uptick in activity as the incumbent representative faces a challenge for the 26th District State Assembly Seat, and a review of court filings reveal accusations against him of domestic violence by his former wife.
Staffers’ Suits Dismissed
The most recent court news involving Mathis is the dismissal of two lawsuits against him brought by a pair of former staff members. The first case involved Mathis’ former chief of staff, Sean Doherty, who claimed he was wrongfully fired by Mathis. The second case was brought by a second staff member, Janie Sustaita De Raadt, who accused Mathis of sexual harassment.
The cases were both marked active by the Sacramento Superior Court as late as July of this year.
Both cases, however, have been settled in Mathis’ favor, after the attorney who represented both claimants failed to continue the case. The reason for the failure is not apparent.
An Unpaid Bill
Prior to that, Mathis found himself facing a day in small claims court after Discover Bank filed suit claiming Mathis had an unpaid credit card debt of $3,695.43. That case was filed against the assemblyman in August of 2019, and eventually settled in October of that year.
The case remained active in the Tulare County Superior Court, however, until February of this year, when Discover Bank moved to have the case dismissed.
Spanking Gone Bad
At about the same time Mathis was settling his credit card debt in October of 2019, there was also action in his 2014 divorce from his former wife, Amber Gomez.
Filings indicate a routine update in the child support payments Mathis makes to his ex-wife to cover the costs of raising their three children. The filings also show the former Mrs. Mathis says her ex-husband became violent with their children on two occasions. Mathis has denied both claims.
According to Mathis, in 2015, one of his sons experienced a period of poor behavior that led to an outburst on the child’s part that involved the boy throwing a car seat. The seat struck the couple’s 1-year-old son in the head. Mathis decided to spank the older boy, resulting in bruising that was eventually reported to police.
Mathis claims he had tried other means of punishment before striking the boy.
“During this time (the child) was completely out of control prior to me spanking him. He was repeatedly yelling and cursing,” Mathis said in a statement to the court defending his actions. “When I was spanking (the child) I was not angry, I was in full control of my feelings.”
Mathis said his son was responsible and had caused the spanking. He reported striking the boy half a dozen times on his bare buttocks.
“I feel real bad that my spanking caused the bruises on (the child’s) bottom, but I felt (the child) had put me in a position that I did not have a choice but to spank him,” Mathis wrote, promising not to repeat the behavior.
A second instance of alleged violent behavior by Mathis toward his children apparently occurred in October of 2015, according to court filings in the divorce case.
In this incident, Mathis allegedly threw a wooden spoon near the head of a second of his sons. While Mathis claims he was tossing the spoon from the kitchen to the living room of his home, his ex-wife maintains he admitted throwing the spoon at their son’s head in an attempt to strike him and knocking him out of a chair.
“Regarding the incident where he threw a wooden spoon toward (the child), both (a witness) and I will testify when we spoke to him (Mathis) regarding the incident he admitted to throwing the spoon at (the child) to get his attention,” Gomez said in her statement. “He (Mathis) also admitted knocking him from his chair because he was angry at him.”
Mathis tells a much different version of the events, that he was cleaning up his home.
“I tossed the spoon from the kitchen to the living room, over the kitchen table where (the child) was sitting at,” Mathis stated. “(The child) started yelling that I threw the spoon at his head. At no time did the spoon even come close to (the child).”
The election for the 26th District seat is Tuesday, November 3. Mathis faces Democratic challenger Drew Phelps of Tulare.