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The lawyer for a California doctor who survived alleged Drano poisoning by his dermatologist wife is warning that male domestic violence victims have few resources to help them escape abuse.
“I think the public should know that domestic violence doesn’t recognize age, geography, profession, education, gender, it is as horrible suffering for a man going through it as it is for a woman going through it,” Steven Hittelman told Fox News Digital Wednesday. “There are little to no resources for female victims of domestic violence, and it’s even worse for men.”
Irvine police arrested 45-year-old dermatologist Dr. Yue Yu, who also goes by Emily, last week on suspicion of poisoning after her radiologist husband, Dr. Jack Chen, gave police videos allegedly showing her dumping Drano into his tea and lemonade more than once.
“He is recovering,” Hittelman said of Chen. “We don’t know how long she had been poisoning him to the point that it started to show the symptoms that gave him concerns at the start of the summer, but when he was able to confirm what she had been doing, obviously he stopped drinking the poison.”
His client suspected something was wrong when he found “a chemical taste” in his lemonade between April and March and soon developed ulcers and other internal issues.
He rigged his kitchen with surveillance cameras and, according to a petition for a restraining order that a judge granted last week, they caught his wife spiking his drinks with the drain-cleaning chemical on multiple occasions.
Chen filed for a divorce the same day he asked the judge to grant him the order of protection, Hittelman said.
“Frankly, but for this poisoning scheme, he would probably not be filing for divorce, as strange as that may sound, with the abuse that he was suffering through,” he said.
In a court filing, Chen alleged that Yu isolated him from his children, and along with his mother-in-law was demeaning and abusive. He said she once stepped on his head demanding he give her a massage and had been hiding money. She also allegedly wouldn’t let their children spend time with him and intimidated them into leaving their father off of a letter to Santa Claus.
The children were not victims of poisoning — but suffered mental and emotional abuse at the hands of their mother and grandmother, Hittelman alleged.
Yu made $30,000 bond Friday and has been released, but the judge ordered her to stay away from the family home, from her children and from Chen and his place of work. She has not yet been charged.
“We are reviewing the evidence in the case to see what charges can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” a spokesperson for the DA’s office told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
David Wohl, Yu’s attorney, called the allegations “false” and said they are motivated by the divorce and custody battle.
“Ms. Emily Yu vehemently and unequivocally denies ever attempting to poison her husband or anyone else,” he told Fox News Digital in a statement Tuesday. “As a well-respected physician, her goal as always been to help people and never to harm people. Accordingly, she also strongly denies her husband’s claims of abusing him and their children emotionally and physically.”
Hittelman countered that there was no custodial dispute until after Chen discovered the alleged poisoning.
“Although California is at the forefront of protections for families that are going through breaking the cycle of domestic violence, there is a lot of work to get done,” he said. “And I’m thankful that Dr. Chen actually came forward to break the cycle of violence in his household and hopefully him and his children have been able to know some peace.”
Fox News’ Ashley Papa contributed to this report.