By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Though fate proved cruel in the end, who could blame Dr. Jon M. Grazer's initial excitement at meeting a petite, well-educated Malaysian woman at Newport Beach's Classic Tailoring in May 2003? Grazer, a prominent Orange County plastic surgeon and bachelor, gave Renee Taiyean Au his business card and telephone number. After Au called, the two dined at upscale Fleming's and slept together.
At the time, Grazer had no way of knowing that, as a lover, Au—then 38 years old and an Orange County civil engineering expert—had trouble accepting that no means no. In fact, according to police and court records, Au's response to male rejection has been something akin to the Big Bang: a combustible mix of outrage—cursing, spitting, pouting, odd stunts, stalking—frightening violence and even threats of a murderous rampage. Her gouging tool of choice: a screwdriver.
Signs of impending disaster arrived a month after Grazer dined with Au. The doctor says Au showed up unannounced at his Fashion Island surgery center and quizzed his employees about their identities and jobs. Then, a few weeks later on a Saturday, Au grabbed Grazer's cell phone while he was in the shower and called one of his ex-girlfriends, Victoria Bahr.
"Jon doesn't want you to ever call him again," said Au, who also erased Bahr's contact information from the doctor's cell phone. "I will be running the office so stay away."
Bahr called Grazer's office manager and described the bizarre phone call. The employee contacted the doctor. Later that night, when Au wasn't in earshot, Grazer called Bahr and apologized.
The following morning, Au searched through the doctor's cell phone calls and confronted him.
"We need to talk," she said. "You called that woman last night!"
"I don't need you to be investigating me like that," the doctor said. The behavior caused Grazer, 47, to throw her out of his Newport Beach residence. However, Au wasn't done with the relationship.
Cue the haunting, high-pitched music.
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Villains in horror flicks often escape justice. Au hasn't been so lucky. She alleged it was an elaborate conspiracy involving the victims, Newport Beach police, a handwriting expert, prosecutors, a judge and her own defense lawyer that landed her in the Central California Women's Facility north of Fresno last year. More on what put her in prison and how she continues to fight in a moment. Next: Dr. Grazer wasn't Au's first victim.
A Costa Mesa city official, who asked not to be identified, briefly dated Au in late 1999. After the man ended the relationship, she harassed him at his home and office, according to court records. In March 2000, Au paged him "30 or 40 times" when he was attending a public function. His car was vandalized with maple syrup. Someone spray-painted "whore" and "bitch" on a vehicle belonging to the man's next girlfriend. Later, yet another girlfriend found this message painted on her car: "End it now bitch." One witness claimed Au admitted to the destruction because she was "angry" with her ex-boyfriend.
In 2001, a jury found Au not guilty of stalking. But she was convicted of vandalism and sentenced to three years' probation and 40 hours of community service. After the case, the city official even attended counseling sessions with her.
* * *
By the time Au met Grazer in 2003, she was on probation and had attended anger management classes. The lessons didn't stick. Just days after Grazer dumped her, Au called his office and, according to court records, told employees to "watch their backs." In a second call 30 minutes later, she said, "You're all dead." The staff called police but nothing was done. Perhaps Grazer intervened. Despite all the trouble, the doctor was not able to resist Au's charms. He would date her twice more before ending the affair again in August.
It was a busy month for Au. She appeared at the home of Grazer's sister "tearful, weepy, lost and pathetic," wearing a cape, hiding her arms and hands, and seeking another "private meeting" with the doctor for "closure." On at least four other occasions, the doctor attended public functions with dates or visited a Starbucks near Fashion Island and saw Au standing alone watching him. At Mosun in Laguna Beach, Grazer called police because of Au's presence. And when the doctor attended a dinner party on another night, she called his cell phone 21 times.
On Oct. 18, 2003, Grazer dined at Fleming's with friend Suzanne Earnest. During dinner, Au called the doctor and demanded that they meet for dinner at Fleming's. He hung up. She called his cell phone 15 more times and his home phone 31 times. A car belonging to Earnest was vandalized at the doctor's residence. The next morning, Grazer left his surgery center and found that someone had keyed and smeared dirt and spittle on his Porsche.
In November, the doctor discovered his car scratched again, Au watching him at a Hoag Hospital parking lot, and his property scattered outside of his home. After receiving numerous hang-up phone calls from a pay phone, Grazer filed a report with Newport Beach police accusing Au of stalking.
The move wasn't a deterrent. Not only did the calls continue, but Au left a message taped to the doctor's front door on Nov. 29. It read, "Jon, I am now more receptive to listen to your apology."