Phoenix Mayor's Top Aide Facing Possible Domestic Violence Charges

Joe Villasenor, a senior assistant to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his wife December 15, according to a police report obtained by New Times.

Villasenor is currently on "personal leave," according to his direct supervisor, Bill Scheel.

The alleged assault took place at the North Central Phoenix home of Villasenor's sister, Lora, and her husband Billy Shields, former president of the local firefighters union, according to the police report. Villasenor's wife, Melinda, alleged that her husband grabbed her arm in the middle of a verbal argument, then shoved her with enough force to send her face-first into the hardwood floor.

A friend in another room heard Melinda Villasenor cry out and rushed into the room. At that point, Joe Villasenor allegedly called her a "fucking bitch" and fled the scene in his vehicle, according to the report.

Villasenor's arrest is the latest piece of bad news in what's been a turbulent month at the mayor's office. First Mayor Gordon was forced to go public with his relationship with his girlfriend/fundraiser, Elissa Mullany, after press inquiries made it clear the story was bound to break soon. Then came a critical piece in the usually adulatory Arizona Republic, questioning the mayor's judgment and his sartorial choices. Finally, as we first reported a few days ago, the muckrakers over at Judicial Watch are now pursuing a public records request -- and possible litigation -- demanding to see logs from the mayor's security detail.

In the Villasenor case, the city prosecutor has referred the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in light of a potential conflict of interest. That agency is reviewing the case.

But the police report is pretty damning. The detective who interviewed Melinda Villasenor observed bruises on her shoulder blade and forearm, according to his report. Melinda Villasenor told police that she is willing to press charges. She also suggested that she's already contacted Child Protective Services to complain of past abuse, according to the report.

Villasenor has worked for Mayor Gordon for two years,says the mayor's office. Before that, he worked for Councilman Dave Siebert.  

UPDATE: Villasenor leave status has now been changed to "indefinite" and unpaid." See our update here.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske