Victim angry at husband, system

February 05, 2003 12:00 am

By AMY LINDBLOM

Editor's note: While The Union Democrat normally withholds the names of domestic violence victims, Sara Graf has approved the printing of her name for this article.

As she describes it, half of Sara Graf's 14-year marriage has been a "living hell."

Albert Graf, 38, of Tuolumne hit, slapped, punched and controlled her, she said. And he manipulated her into doing things she didn't want to do, including taking drugs with him.

"He would always say ‘do this or do that because you know what I'm capable of, don't you,' " Sara Graf said. "His behavior was bred into him. Yet, he would never accept it if it happened to one of his children.

"But he accepts that it is OK to beat his own wife."

Sara Graf, 34, legally blind from a degenerative disease, cannot drive. She has no peripheral vision and sees the world in front of her as if through a colander.

"Albert said he didn't have to always beat me; all he had to do was move furniture around so I would bump into it," Sara Graf said during an interview at Tuolumne County District Attorney's Victim Witness Assistance Center. "That was another game he played. And he had lots of games."

Game is up

Albert Graf was arrested in October 2001 when Sara called 911 during an especially violent beating she said involved threats with a screwdriver.

In February 2002, Albert Graf was convicted of felony spousal battery, assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats — all against his wife.

Yet when it came time for Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Douglas Boyack to sentence her husband, Sara Graf asked for leniency.

In letters to the judge and probation department, she said Albert Graf was the sole breadwinner in the household and that she and her children needed his financial and emotional support.

Boyack temporarily sentenced Graf to local jail time and required him to attend a 52-week domestic violence class.