Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez attends an open forum by Community in Action organization and the City of Ontario discussing the outcomes and next steps for the winter shelter program (Kezia Setyawan/The Enterprise).
A state judge ruled that Alfredo “Freddy” Rodriguez, an Ontario city councilor, was a credible threat to a former girlfriend and ordered him to stay away from her for a year.
Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff, a judge from Baker County handling the matter, ruled on Tuesday, July 14, after two and a half hours of court proceedings in Malheur County Circuit Court as Rodriguez contested a temporary restraining order issued against him in early June.
The restraining order was sought by a former girlfriend. The Enterprise does not identify victims of domestic abuse.
Shirtcliff said his decision was “an extremely close call,” and he had to filter through some claims that simply reflected “a bad relationship.” However, he said his decision was based on the accumulation of incidents he found credible outlined in the petition seeking the restraining order and in witness testimony.
“Abuse doesn’t have to be causing someone bodily injury,” said Shirtcliff. “She’s in fear - no question.”
He referenced claims that Rodriguez drove by a residence – an adult foster home – that he was ordered to stay away from in the victim’s restraining order and yelled profanity at one of the victim’s employees, Jerry Ward, who had dated the victim before Rodriguez.
Shirtcliff said that another witness testifying about Rodriguez’s conduct was a client of the victim who “doesn’t appear to have a dog in this fight.”
The incident added to the weight of Shirtcliff’s finding that Rodriguez was a credible threat to the victim, he said, because “that tends to show me a lack of control.”
Whether Rodriguez’s conduct in that instance violated the restraining order, “it clearly showed a disregard for it,” Shirtcliff said.
The judge cited claims that Rodriguez several times approached the victim when they were at public events, grabbing her arm and dragging her away, once with enough force that she “tripped over her own feet,” according to testimony at the hearing.
Charlotte Kreftmeyer, who is a friend of the victim, testified that Rodriguez left a mark on the victim’s arm, testimony that Shirtcliff said he found “credible.” Kreftmeyer testified that the victim in early March began showing up to her house wearing a wool coat and scarf even though a heat wave had hit. One day, when she wore a long-sleeve dress with a high collar and scarf that was tied around her neck, Kreftmeyer asked her to show her neck and arms and saw that she had marks on her neck and bruises on both arms.
Two specific instances of arm grabbing were brought up by Kreftmeyer — one at a haunted house in October 2019 and the other at the Four Rivers Gala in February. Kreftmeyer said Rodriguez “pulled [the victim] to the side with one hand on her upper bicep” at the haunted house and spoke with her “through clenched teeth.” After the discussion, Kreftmeyer said, the victim came back in new clothes and makeup because she had been “told to change into something more professional.”
At the Four Rivers Gala, Kreftmeyer said Rodriguez pulled the victim around multiple times throughout the night and seemed overall irritated. The victim testified that Rodriguez “started getting irritated as he started drinking throughout the night.”
“Every time Mr. Rodriguez wanted her attention or wanted her to introduce him to someone, he would cuff his hand around her bicep and pull her away,” Kreftmeyer testified.
But Rodriguez denied ever “forcefully pulling” the victim at the gala during his testimony.
“It was about giving him what he wanted,” the victim testified.
Shawn Logan, Rodriguez’s attorney, called Rodriguez’s 11-year-old daughter to testify in his defense. Logan asked her about the haunted house incident since she had been there as well, and she said Rodriguez pulled the victim aside because Kreftmeyer was “being mean to her” and it upset her. The victim’s attorney, Brian Zanotelli, later asked in his closing argument why Rodriguez didn’t pull Kreftmeyer aside instead.
The judge found Rodriguez’s threats to Pat Caldwell, a reporter at the Enterprise who had dated the victim, especially “chilling.” The victim claimed that Rodriguez said he would hurt Caldwell in ways the former girlfriend “couldn’t imagine.”
Logan contended that some incidents brought up during the hearing weren’t in the victim’s petition, which he felt was “suspect,” and that there were no direct physical threats to the victim or evidence of physical violence. Logan asked the judge to dismiss the restraining order entirely, saying the statements in the petition were “inflammatory” and “improvable.”
“I’ve never touched her like that,” Rodriguez testified.
In his closing argument, Zanotelli said not everything that was brought up during the hearing had to be in the victim’s petition for the restraining order and that the incidents in the order and discussed by witnesses show “a pattern of behavior.”
Rodriguez, 38, has been an Ontario city councilor since January 2019. On June 4, the victim obtained a restraining order based on claims she feared Rodriguez. On June 19, Rodriguez obtained his own restraining order against the victim.
Rodriguez moved from Idaho to Ontario about five years ago. He was twice-charged in domestic abuse cases in Canyon County, Idaho. The charge in one of the cases was dismissed in 2010 after he attended court-ordered treatment. He pleaded guilty in a second case that same year and was sentenced to 24 months of probation and required to attend a 52-week domestic battery treatment program.
“I have every reason to believe that he could do that to me,” the victim said in her testimony regarding Rodriguez’s history of domestic violence, “and I filed for a restraining order because I need one.”
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