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Judge grants former Rep. Katie Hill temporary restraining order against her ex-husband

"I am seeking a restraining order because I am afraid that he will not give up until I am dead," she said in her filing in a Los Angeles County court.
Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., speaks at a press conference outside of the Capitol on June 25, 2019.Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles judge granted former Rep. Katie Hill's request for a temporary restraining order against her ex-husband Tuesday, after Hill alleged her ex had subjected her to 15 years of abuse, including choking her unconscious, threatening her with a gun, abusing her pets and releasing sexually explicit pictures that ended her political career.

"While I considered filing a restraining order many times over the years, I was always afraid doing so would simply make matters worse," said Hill's sworn statement in her request for the TRO on Kenny Heslep. "At this point, I am finally seeking a restraining order because I am afraid that he will not give up until I am dead."

The judge imposed an order effective until at least Dec. 30, when there is a hearing scheduled to determine whether the order should be extended. Heslep is ordered to say at least 100 yards away from Hill, Hill's mother and sister and Hill's goat, dog and horse. The judge deferred a decision on whether to enjoin Heslep from disseminating "confidential information" about Hill to the media or the public until the Dec. 30 hearing.

Hill resigned from Congress effective Nov. 3, 2019 amid an ethics investigation over an allegedly inappropriate relationship with a staffer and reports about her personal life including nude photos of the congresswoman published without her consent. At the time she stepped down, Hill described the images as an illegal and appalling “invasion of privacy" that had been "weaponized" against her. She attributed her resignation to an "abusive" estranged husband and "hateful political operatives" who she said were driving a smear campaign. The document filed in court, however, lays out years of alleged controlling behavior and abuse dating back over a decade.

Hill said she met Heslep in June 2004 when she was 16 and he was 20 while working at a bookstore in Venice, California, according to the filing. At the time, she said she was recovering from a sexual assault and Heslep’s "possessiveness and older age made me feel safe, protected and loved."

But in time she said those traits would take on a "much darker meaning. Initially, the controlling behavior included cutting her off from family and friends by controlling her conversations and movements and punishing or raging at her for transgressions.

"I walked on eggshells around Kenny, afraid to do anything that would make him angry."

Hill said her ex-husband is “obsessed with guns and, at last count, had a least a dozen. ... I would frequently find him with guns spread over the table while he cleaned them which was far, far more frequently than necessary. He would ‘hide’ guns around the house in places he knew I would find them — such as in my clothing drawer, in the kitchen, in my office — which I felt threatened and intimidated by.”

The couple married in 2010. Heslep worked intermittently, the filing said. Hill's worked for a nonprofit agency helping the homeless and then entered politics, winning election to Congress in 2018 representing a portion of northern Los Angeles County. Their divorce was settled in September 2020.

Heslep, who could not immediately be reached for comment, did not respond to previous NBC inquiries surrounding Hill’s allegations.