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Court records shed light on Trump Jr’s tweet questioning if Duke alum Eugene Gu is a 'wife beater'

Ex-wife was granted temporary domestic violence restraining order against Eugene Gu, records show

A champion of “the Resistance” and supporter of the #MeToo Movement, Eugene Gu has railed against Vanderbilt University Medical Center, alleging he was punished for kneeling in protest and tweeting that he was "physically assaulted" by his chief resident. 

Recently, Donald Trump Jr. questioned whether the prominent liberal activist is a “Wife Beater” on Twitter. Trump Jr. quoted a since-deleted tweet that included a screenshot showing Gu was arrested on charges of domestic violence in 2015.

Our investigation showed that Gu has not been convicted of domestic violence but was arrested on those charges February 3, 2015. 

A temporary domestic violence restraining order requested by his ex-wife on the basis of four alleged incidents was granted later that month. 

An expungement order from that May officially cleared Gu’s arrest record. In a statement to the Chronicle, Gu denied all related allegations.

The Chronicle has extensively covered the story of Gu, School of Medicine ‘15, and the confrontation with his then-employer Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

He was placed on administrative leave in November 2017 after controversy arose following a viral tweet with a photo of him kneeling against white supremacy. His contract was later not renewed. 

Gu and Trump family have a history

In June, The Chronicle was the first to report that Gu’s contract was not renewed by Vanderbilt University Medical Center just months after he was put on administrative leave when a patient’s mother complained about his kneeling in protest. 

Gu rose to prominence in 2016 when he was subpoenaed by Congress for his research on fetal tissues, with the aim of helping babies with congenital heart and kidney diseases. 

After his contract was not renewed, Gu has since received interest from other residency programs, according to email documentation obtained by the Chronicle. 

In May, Gu won a federal lawsuit against President Trump for blocking him on Twitter, along with six co-plaintiffs. 

In a series of tweets in response to Trump Jr.’s questioning if Gu was a “Wife Beater” on June 26, 2018, Gu condemned Trump Jr.’s actions and said he had “never committed any act of domestic violence or false imprisonment.” 

Trump Jr. did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. 

“The son of the President of the United States, who has blocked me, is making false accusations against me that I beat and imprisoned my wife,” Gu wrote in a tweet. “All of this is categorically untrue in every way, shape, and form. Shame on the Trump family for promoting libel.”

In tweets, Gu blamed the screenshot of the charge's existence, which he said were from "third party private sites independent of the judiciary," on an "aggressive lawyer" who "caused a whole bunch of trouble" in "the heat" of his divorce. 

“This is the kind of bullying and intimidation the Trump family has perfected. I am not a celebrity or a powerful person,” Gu wrote in a tweet.

He has nearly a quarter of a million Twitter followers, is a opinion contributor for The Hill and has served as a guest analyst on BBC World News. 

Gu said Trump Jr.’s tweet has had profound consequences for him. 

“Nothing in the digital world is ever truly expunged, and as a consequence it has damaged my life beyond repair. I have been getting thousands of nasty messages every day and hundreds of death threats,” Gu told The Chronicle. “I know I may be seen as a public figure, but in reality I have no job, no money and seemingly no future. The only thing I have left is my voice, which is being taken away.”

Ex-wife alleged Gu pushed her to the ground, blocked her from leaving room

Gu and his spouse divorced in 2015, but not before she made allegations that Gu “threatened” and “hurt” her in a filing to request a temporary domestic violence restraining order against him. According to Superior Court of California records, the temporary restraining order was granted February 10, 2015. 

When the temporary order was set to expire March 9, 2015, her counsel gave notice via phone call and email that she was "no longer going to pursue this matter and wishes to have the matter dropped," according to court records. The filing noted that the request for the order was dismissed without prejudice. 

The Chronicle reached out repeatedly via text messages and calls to a number listed for Gu’s ex-wife but did not receive a response in time for publication.

In a form requesting the domestic violence restraining order that was granted February 10, 2015, Gu’s ex-wife alleged that Gu committed four instances of abuse from August 2013 to February 2015, which escalated in physicality over time. 

Gu denied the allegations and insisted that his criminal records were “expunged.” An expungement record dated May 15, 2015, showed his arrest records to be expunged. According to Superior Court of California documents obtained by The Chronicle, there was “no record” of a criminal complaint having been filed against Gu. 

“I categorically deny all the allegations made against me, none of which occurred, and which were seen by a judge in a court of law and expunged. Civil filings weren't seen in a court and were administrative,” Gu claimed in a statement to The Chronicle July 10. “The threshold for granting a [temporary restraining order] is a lot lower than the threshold for getting an expungement.”

In the first of the four alleged incidents described in the documents, Gu’s ex-wife said that Gu left bruises on her back and scratches on her hand in August 2013. During the incident, she alleged Gu pushed her onto a bed and “wrestled her” for her phone, after which she ran to the bathroom to hide. He prevented her from closing the door and smashed her phone, she said. 

A month later, she alleged he woke her up in the middle of the night and asked about her ex-boyfriend, then threatened to kill the ex-boyfriend and himself. 

In a separate conflict at an unspecified date, she said that she hid in the bathroom, and Gu broke down the door. She asserted in the filing that she had a video recording of the incident. 

The Chronicle attempted to contact her with a request that she provide this video but did not receive a response in time for publication. Counsel for Gu’s ex-wife declined to comment for this story, citing attorney-client privilege. 

In January 2015, she claimed Gu got into an argument with her about his thought that “men were superior to women.” Gu denied in a statement to the Chronicle that he said this. After the fight, she tried to leave, but he put his arms around her waist and forced her back onto the couch, she alleged.

Near the close of the tumultuous relationship, things took a dark turn when his ex-wife had Gu served with the petition for marriage dissolution February 3, 2015, she said.The filing reads that she texted Gu to let him know what was happening. She also alleged that they had been discussing a potential divorce for roughly a month. 

After he was served with the petition, she went into their home, she said. The filing claimed that he packed his bags and left.

A few minutes later, she heard the doorbell ring. Gu said he wanted to spend the night on the couch as to “not bother his parents,” she alleged. She agreed because their tenants would be back soon, so she thought she would be safe, the filing reads. 

She then went to her room and locked the door. 

A knock came on her door soon after. Gu said he "wanted closure and to talk about an amicable divorce," according to the filing.

She let him in, but he locked the door and blocked her from leaving the room despite her repeated pleas to be allowed to leave, she alleged. She tried to grab the door handle, but Gu shoved her to the ground, his ex-wife said.

She tried to call a friend, but Gu tried to take the phone from her, she alleged. Once she got out of the room, she ran out of the house and called the police. Gu was arrested, according to the filing. His record has been expunged of this arrest.

A heavily redacted Hayward Police Department report on the incident obtained by the Chronicle states that Gu was charged with battery committed against a spouse and false imprisonment. The report said that Gu's ex-wife requested that charges be pressed against Gu for "preventing her from leaving her room and for pushing her down.” It also said that she had no visible injuries and declined medical attention. This would be the 2015 arrest record to which Trump Jr.’s quote tweet referred, which was expunged by the May 2015 order.

The expungement letter cited California Penal Code section 851.8 (b) as “good cause” for Gu’s records to be “sealed and destroyed.” 

The code in question states that if the law enforcement agency and district attorney do not respond to a petition for records to be destroyed within 60 days—one that requires a “determination that the person arrested is factually innocent”—the petition is deemed to be denied. The statute says that a petition may be made to the superior court having “territorial jurisdiction over the matter.” There, the prosecuting attorney and law enforcement agency may present evidence. 

“A finding of factual innocence and an order for the sealing and destruction of records pursuant to this section shall not be made unless the court finds that no reasonable cause exists to believe that the arrestee committed the offense for which the arrest was made,” the penal code states. 

Gu said he did not know if his ex-wife contested the potential expungement because he said he was not in contact with her. He also said he did not attend any hearings because he was at Duke.

“We are all human and we all say things that we don't mean, including my wife,” Gu said July 10. “That doesn't make her a liar and it doesn’t make me a criminal.”

Gu told The Chronicle in June that he wants to avoid bringing others into this situation.

“I just want to make it clear that even though the Trump family dragged me into this mess, I hope people don’t drag my family members or my ex-wife and her family members into this as well,” Gu said. “We as American citizens deserve our privacy and protection, and this is outrageous.”

A search of Superior Court of California, County of Alameda criminal records for Gu’s name and date of birth found “no record of a complaint having been filed” for Gu. 

The couple’s marriage was dissolved in October 2015.


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