Lawyers for former Rep. Katie Hill and her ex- husband told a Los Angeles County judge Wednesday they remain hopeful of settling her allegations of harassment and years of abuse, but they still asked that the groundwork be laid for a possible trial of whether Hill’s stay-away order should be extended.
The attorneys for Hill and Kenneth Heslep said that if the case is tried, it will likely take four to five days. In response, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence Riff ordered both sides to prepare lists of witnesses and exhibits they would use during the trial and submit them a week in advance of April 8, when a trial-setting hearing is scheduled.
“I want a better sense of why it would take so long,” Riff said.
The judge said he was extending the temporary restraining order Judge Anne Richardson granted Hill on Dec. 8 until April 30. The TRO directs Heslep to stay at least 100 yards from Hill as well as her mother and sister.
Asked by Riff if he understood why that was being done, Heslep replied, “Yes, I do and I understand.”
Riff said he will not personally try the case and that it will be sent to a judge who does lengthy trials, but he urged the parties to keep talking.
“I do hope the parties are able to find a way of resolving it before our hearing,” Riff said.
Heslep attorney Michelle Sherwood said the case has “a lot of moving parts” and much public interest, but that she thinks a settlement is possible, in part because she and Hill’s lawyer, Jennifer Morra, are communicating.
“Ms. Morra and I work well together,” Sherwood said.
Hill did not speak during the hearing. She, Heslep and the attorneys were not present in court and communicated with the judge by speaker phone. The ex-couple officially divorced in October.
Heslep has denied allegations of abusing Hill, who resigned her seat in 2019 after nude photos of her were published and news emerged that she had a three-way relationship with her husband and a campaign staffer. She was also accused of having an affair with a member of her congressional staff.
Hill, 33, blamed her husband for the public release of the photos. Speaking in Congress in 2019, she decried a “misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching.”
The 25th Congressional District includes the Antelope Valley. The seat had long been held by Republicans until Hill’s 2018 victory over then-Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale. After Hill’s resignation, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia defeated Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith in a May 12 special election to fill the final 7 1/2 months of the term. Garcia then beat Smith again by a razor-thin margin in November’s election for a full two-year term.