A Tacoma judge has been accused of assaulting his wife at a church dinner just one week after he was admonished by a judicial watchdog agency for making insensitive remarks in domestic violence cases.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct on Monday released a statement of charges accusing Tacoma Municipal Court Judge Ralph G. Turco of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct by hitting his wife, Adrian.
Turco, a judge for seven years, faces penalties ranging from a reprimand to removal from the bench if the 11-member commission finds Turco violated the code.
He has three weeks to file a response. He referred questions to his attorney, Kurt Bulmer, who said the judge denies pushing or striking his wife.
Bulmer noted that Kitsap County prosecutors investigated Turco earlier this year and declined to file any domestic violence charges.
The charges mark the third time that Turco has been in trouble with the Judicial Conduct Commission.
In the latest case, based on a complaint filed earlier this summer, commission investigators allege that Turco argued with his wife and struck her in front of witnesses at a church dinner on Dec. 8, 1995. She fell to the floor, according to the commission’s statement.
The alleged assault occurred one week after the commission admonished him for making insensitive remarks in three domestic violence cases. The judge was quoted as telling a defendant during sentencing in one of those cases: “You didn’t need to bite her. Maybe you needed to boot her in the rear end, but you didn’t need to bite her.”
The Judicial Conduct Commission declined to reveal the identity of the person who filed the complaint.
Turco’s wife sought court protection from her husband in February, saying she had been subjected to repeated threats and physical and verbal abuse during their 38 years of marriage.
A temporary protective order was issued, but Adrian Turco had it dismissed two days later so their divorce could proceed, her attorney said earlier this year.
Adrian Turco said in the court documents that her husband hit her in the face on one occasion, breaking her nose, and punched her in the back, sending her to the floor, on another. She added the incidents always included “threats of financial loss.”
Turco also was in trouble with the commission in 1992, when he accepted a censure for deciding a Municipal Court traffic case on the basis of a coin toss.
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