The July, online, employment ad sounded fantastic: $2,000 per week in compensation to work as an office manager at a Southern California "anti-domestic violence" charity that guarantees the chance to "hang out with major celebrities every week!" A woman, who out of fear asked me to not reveal her identity, responded with her résumé and promptly received a follow-up email from the president of Hollywood Helpers, Inc. "What you are about to read will titillate, and then scare the pants off you," wrote former The X-Files actor Prince Edward Maryland, before indicating the position offers a choice of office locations in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Fernando Valley, Palmdale, San Diego and Las Vegas, as well as "full medical/dental benefits," an expense account, bonuses and a company vehicle.
"People ask me, 'Why do you treat your workers so well?'" Maryland bragged in his email. "Well, I was a finance broker in Beverly Hills. We drove the best cars, ate at the best restaurants, lived 'la dolce vita' while the subords [sic] were mercilessly harangued. I said if I ever become prexy, my people will bless the day I was born! (They do!) . . . Your comfort is of tantamount concern."
If the opportunity sounded too good, Maryland also conceded there is "a rub" to his job offer. Prospective office managers must first work full-time for $15.62 per hour and no benefits in his fund-raising telephone center for a minimum of 90 days. He closed his pitch with a tug on the heartstrings: a reminder that his charity's goal isn't profit, but rather "a serious assault on the plague" of domestic violence.
Suspicious, the lady who received Maryland's email searched his name on Google and found a 2009 OC Weekly report. "I am so grateful I came across your article," she wrote to me. "Maryland is a very ill, sadistic, violent criminal who appears to enjoy physically and sexually abusing women. Is this guy back on the streets?"
Maryland isn't telling job applicants that his office is his home: a maximum-security cell at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe. He also isn't advising women that they are sharing their résumés and personal details with one of California's most dangerous sadomasochistic criminals, a onetime braggadocio gigolo, narcotics trafficker, forgery artist, stripper, deadbeat dad, cocaine addict, psychiatric patient, EMT and, though occasionally an artful wordsmith, a Catholic-high-school-educated pimp prone, according to 18 years of criminal records, to breaking the teeth, noses, arms, wrists, eardrums and ribs of women who didn't obey his orders.
According to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa, his agency prohibits inmates from running businesses. The rule hasn't stopped Maryland from directing at least seven companies, all of which entice people to donate money to him. Inmate F86550 is extraordinarily audacious. Who else could be a vicious, unrepentant woman beater and simultaneously manage anti-domestic-violence charities?
* * *
In March 2004, the future Mrs. Valerie Maryland, a well-educated and successful Orange County businesswoman with gorgeous eyes and an amiable smile, met 39-year-old Prince, a decade her junior, at an online, interracial dating website and had no clue of looming disaster. He portrayed himself as a well-connected movie producer on the verge of striking it rich with the likes of superstar Morgan Freeman. In fact, he had been unemployed, using a public bus for transportation, battling and losing a daily crack-cocaine habit, and living in government dormitory housing. She fell for his lies, allowed him to move into her modest, two-bedroom Lake Forest home, and agreed to marriage.
The initial stages of the relationship were, Valerie later told prosecutors, relatively enjoyable. They didn't spend a day apart for the first six months. But sadly, love blinded her to loudly flapping red flags. According to government files obtained by the Weekly, Prince earned an average of just $2,270 in annual income for the 18 years before he met Valerie. In the first 10 months of their marriage, he drained $65,000 from her savings and ran up more than $106,000 in credit-card bills. She fell so far into his ruse that she paid the monthly rent for a prop he'd use over and over to bolster his empty credibility: a small office at Raleigh Studios.
The illusion of happiness collapsed on April 8, 2005, when Prince and Valerie ate beef tacos at their favorite local Mexican restaurant for a celebration of sorts: He'd concocted a story about an impending $5 million loan for a movie project sure to earn, he surmised, at least $70 million in box-office sales. To help keep the fantasy alive, he drove to Van Nuys to buy $500 worth of rock cocaine. Before the night ended, he also hired two female prostitutes and filmed the group's wild, drug- and liquor-induced sexual escapades.
At some point after the hookers departed, Prince began a crime spree that left his wife a battered, bloody mess and guaranteed him a top-ranking spot in the annals of horrific California crimes. It started when he began to interrogate her about his suspicions that she'd been cheating. For hours, he beat her with his fists and a wire coat hanger while she insisted he was wrong. In hopes of stopping the attack, she eventually told him what he wanted to hear.
After the false admission given under duress, Prince got more agitated. He began searching through her cell phone and calling numbers attached to male names. He tied her up and punched her so many times that her pale Caucasian face and upper body complexion turned entirely black, purple, brown and red. The pummeling caused severe head swelling that is best described as pumpkin-like. An eardrum was permanently damaged. Muscles in her head were paralyzed.
Off and on for days, he raped and strangled her until she passed out. He fractured her larynx, forever altering her voice. He sliced her with a butcher's knife. He whipped her with a wire coat hanger. Keeping a jar of KY jelly by the bed, he made her beg to be sodomized repeatedly and, after each encounter, immediately forced her to perform oral sex on him, a humiliating demand he mockingly celebrated as "ATM," or "ass to mouth," according to court records.
Refusing to give Valerie access to water, Prince instead urinated in her mouth. He burned her body more than two dozen times, including her vaginal and anal areas. He repeatedly kicked her. He threatened to kill her and her family. He dragged her around by her hair, yanked out clumps with his fists and used scissors to cut off chunks. His beatings filled her eyes with blood. He shoved a hot crack-cocaine pipe into her vagina and singed her clitoris after saying he didn't want another man to enjoy her.
Just after lunchtime on the fifth day of the attack, an unrecognizable Valerie emerged from unconsciousness. Prince had driven away in her SUV, and she didn't know when he might return. Though she could barely open her mouth because of her injuries, she called 911 to beg Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) deputies to rescue her.
"I need an ambulance," Valerie said. "You need to hurry. Oh, please, God, help me."
* * *
On July 29, Joanne Elizabeth Busch, a Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center nurse who became an actress starring as USS Excelsior Commander Robin Lefler on Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, appeared on Los Angeles radio station KROQ for a 30-minute interview with host Scott Mason. Busch, who bears a striking resemblance to the pre-mutilated Valerie Maryland [no longer her legal name], labeled herself as co-director of West Hollywood-based anti-domestic-violence charities Don't Hit, Quit and Hollywood Helpers, Inc. She said the organizations need millions of dollars in donations to build "time-out resorts" for men on the verge of physically and mentally abusing their wives or girlfriends.
"It's a very unique program," said an upbeat Busch, who advertises her acting services on public websites. "There's nothing like it out there. That's why people have such a hard time getting their head around it. What we want to do is stop the cycle [of domestic violence against women]."
Busch told Mason the initial plan is to use $1.2 million to buy an existing house in Santa Monica (an earlier plan obtained by the Weekly indicated Whittier as the location). The organization will "build a campus around" the house, with trained domestic-violence counselors available 24 hours a day to assist men who believe they are about to snap and want help. Ideally, a troubled man would call 1-800-DONTHIT or 1-800-TIMEOUT and arrange to be shuttled to the resort. "It will have state-of-the-art TVs, sports and food, so it's really an attractive place for a man to want to walk away to," said Busch, who has also called the resorts "man caves."
She continued, "We want to raise awareness that it's okay to talk about [the urge to commit violence], to get help before you do anything—that's the whole goal."
Though Busch touts "positive" praise from U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, as well as actors Tom Arnold and Michael Douglas, she urged KROQ listeners to donate $10,000 to launch a Lancaster-based telephone fund-raising operation that would be the first phase of putting time-out resorts "all around the country" within five years. Another goal is to produce "gritty" television commercials that teach men how to navigate through "violent situations."
Said Busch—a part-time Seacret skin care saleswoman and wellness coach, "If this strikes a chord with anybody, feel free to go to the website and donate any amount that you can."
Mason called the plan "a great idea" and asked who would serve on the proposed resort's board of directors.
"My friend Prince and I," said Busch. "We are the board."
* * *
Deputy Gregory Jensen was the first to arrive at Valerie's home after her 911 call. He was shocked. "I feared she was going to die," Jensen told his colleagues. While emergency trauma doctors treated his wife's injuries, Prince fled north on the 5 freeway. He had a phone, beer and a stash of rock cocaine. Using cell-phone-tower activity reports, T-Mobile gave authorities his location near Bakersfield. Still high, Prince led Kern County deputies on a police chase that hit speeds of 120 mph before he crashed near railroad tracks.
OCSD investigators Tracy Morris and Wade Walsvick flew Maryland—who complained that the fist he used to beat his wife was sore and required pain-killing medicine—to Santa Ana and the Orange County Jail. During a voluntary interrogation, the deputies showed him a photograph of Valerie's wounds—a gory image that would make a normal person nauseated. It looked as if her body had been inflated with helium, and then burnt to a crisp. Yet the image didn't faze Maryland.
Walsvick, who recorded in department records that the beating was the "most severe" he'd seen in his career, interrupted Prince talking about himself. "We just showed you probably the most horrific photo of a woman who has been almost beaten to death, and you didn't even bat an eye," he observed.
Prince, who learned to box during one of his half-dozen prior prison trips, had an explanation. He called Valerie a manipulator who was lucky to have him in her life. "The way she looks right now is perfect," he said. "She can tell everybody anything, and they'll feel sorry for her."
At first, he tried to argue that he caused Valerie's wounds while defending himself from her violent attacks on him, but he quickly abandoned that excuse for a more preposterous one. "The reason she's like that [seriously injured and in intensive care at the hospital] is because she asked me to do that to her," said Maryland, who claims his half-brother is ex-Dallas Cowboy star Russell Maryland. "She asked me to fuck her up."
He said his attacks had been requested, and he reluctantly provided foreplay. "After all that, we had sex, and she came in a way she had never come before," he said. "She is sick. She's into kinky sex practices."
* * *
According to numerous law-enforcement records, Maryland has experience trying to talk his way out of trouble:
• In 1986, at the age of 21, he pummeled the face of a 15-year-old girl named Stacy.
• In 1988, he ran out of a bar to savagely beat a man hailing a taxi, and then punched a woman in the face who tried to assist the victim.
• In 1989, he used a knife to cut a girlfriend named Sherry, threatened to kill her and shattered her front teeth after accusing her of cheating.
• Later that same year, he showed up at the home of a girlfriend named Charlene to punch and kick her.
• In 1995, while homeless, he moved in with an employed woman named Mary. During a five-month period, he repeatedly beat her to the point of unconsciousness and demanded she have sex with his friends. He also broke her nose, wrist and multiple ribs.
In response to a police question about Maryland's mindset, she told this revealing story: "I have a fear of spiders, so Mr. Maryland would catch one in a jar, dump it on the floor next to me and scare it to move in my direction. If I moved away, he hit me and threatened to kill me."
Before she got him sent to prison for domestic violence, he handcuffed her to a railing in her home and shoved a large, Scotch bottle into her vagina. "There is no form of torture that he will not use," she told police. "He will do whatever it takes to make a person submit to his total control. He takes a sick, perverse pleasure in violating women. . . . I was fortunate to escape alive."
It's unknown if violence destroyed his first marriage in 1984 to Tanja, a German national he met while stationed overseas as an army medic. The couple had a baby boy, and he brought them back to this country after his military discharge. But she soon divorced him and returned home.
In 1999, while on parole from a four-year prison trip for beating Mary, Maryland met Jennifer, who would become his second wife. He admitted to her that he was a male go-go dancer and gigolo who could "satisfy a woman like she's never been satisfied before," according to court records.
At first, he exuded charm, Jennifer recalled in statement written for Vancouver police in 2001. "He wrote his own wedding vows and read them to me during the ceremony," wrote Jennifer, who had children from a prior marriage. "The things he said to me in those vows were things I had waited my whole life to hear coming from a man's lips."
Within weeks, however, Maryland convinced Jennifer's half-sister to start a telephone sex line and a massage business that paid him 80 percent of the profits. He told the woman "to do everything she possibly could to satisfy [men] sexually," and he taught her "how to string men along to keep them coming back and spending money."
Maryland soon began beating Jennifer and her kids. While quoting biblical scriptures and smoking crack cocaine, he frequently tied her up and demanded violent sex that involved choking and involuntary sodomy. She discovered that he used fake names—Eric Stryker and Madison Harris—for his own secret, male-escort endeavors. On one occasion, he forced her to have sex with him at a hotel in front of an out-of-town gay businessman who paid to watch. He believed women were to be "submissive" and do "whatever" he wanted, she told police.
With chilling, crystal-ball foresight, she also outlined Maryland's m.o. four years before the crack-induced attacks on Valerie. "He informed me that he gets women high on crack cocaine, and then makes them talk," she told police investigators after one of her own beatings. "He said this is the only way he can get women to be honest with him. Through this process of questioning them, he can find out if they are honest enough to have the pleasure of being with him. . . . He is highly capable of mind control over innocent people, and he is also very sly when it comes to making money and committing fraud."
* * *
After the women who respond to Maryland's online ad for an office manager learn they must first work as "closers" for three months soliciting donations, Maryland reveals his strategy. "Who in SoCal wants to meet famous stars?" he writes. "Isn't the answer obvious? EVERYONE! Halle Berry and Lynda Carter are among the celebs who love us. We have celebs lining up to participate. My closers are contacting previous donors, inviting them to our HAPPY HOUR WITH THE STARS! Events are at popular, local night spots: red carpet, celebrity photo ops, terrific food—are you with me?"
The cost? A donation to Maryland, who currently lists himself as president of Mad Men, Inc.; Hollywood Helpers, Inc.; Prior Military Productions; Golden Goose Films; Don't Hit, Quit; and Fire of God Men's Ministry.
"A paltry $100 for a night of fun, Facebook bragging rights and, most of all, a serious assault on a plague that kills four women in the U.S. every day," the convicted felon wrote. "Enough is enough! If any of this interests you, contact Joanne Busch within 48 hours."
If you can't attend happy hour, Maryland and Busch also designed a "Celebrity Lunch Series," at which, they claim, donors can meet George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Gere, Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Jeff Bridges, Ben Affleck, Julianne Moore, Charlize Theron and Clint Eastwood—"the list goes on and on."
Maryland and Busch say the price of admittance for a "summer pass" is $500, but they are willing to sell tickets for $400. "Hollywood celebrities are proudly pitching in to help stamp out domestic violence!" they wrote. "Space is severely limited. . . . What are you waiting for? Click on the PayPal link right now and have the best summer of your life!"
Maryland's charitable efforts don't end with domestic violence. "Are you tired of political rhetoric?" he published on his Hollywood Helpers, Inc., website. "Are you fed up with Washington? Are you fed up with the economy? Are you tired of struggling? We can help! America! Washington is BROKEN! No one cares! Alone, we are invisible! Together, we're invincible! Help us combat America's core problems: unemployment, domestic hunger, domestic violence . . . Donate now."
Beneath images of the American flag, U.S. soldiers, the U.S. Capitol Building and an Academy Award Oscar statue, he offers his "simple reasoning" to create "10 million" jobs: "If 160 million citizens give just $10 each, that's $1.6 billion! Let's bail ourselves out. . . . We can curb domestic hunger and create millions of new jobs with one program!"
Next to an online PayPal button on his solicitations, Maryland writes, "Give Liberally! God Bless!"
According to Nick Pacilio, a spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, the charity organizations created by Maryland and Busch have failed to register and have ignored repeated delinquency notices from state regulators. "They are out of compliance," said Pacilio. "If they continue to ignore their responsibilities, there will be consequences."
An attempt to get Busch—who has been raising donations for Maryland for more than three years—to describe overall receipts and disbursements and to reveal how much has been used by Maryland resulted in swift anger. Though my only communication with her had been two, brief emails, she accused me of illegally harassing her, refused to share any of the charity's "proprietary" financial information and threatened to have a lawyer sue me if I asked any more questions.
Busch then attempted to kill this story by going to Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano. "One of your senior editors, Scott Moxley, has been hounding me for an interview and in no uncertain terms," she wrote in an email. "This charity is about taking a bad situation and doing something good. Here is a man in prison giving back. There are no covert, illegal prison operations taking place of which [Moxley] seems to be suspecting. It's a nurse and a prison inmate trying to change the landscape of domestic violence in America. Here is someone who has turned his life around and wants to stop what happened to him from happening to anyone else. . . . Why does Scott want to stop or defame stopping domestic violence and saving lives?"
* * *
During his 2007 attempted-murder trial, Maryland rejected public-defender service, represented himself and angled to play the victim for the jury in Superior Court Judge John Conley's Santa Ana courtroom. He asked to show a homemade sex video that he said proved Valerie willingly submitted to his whims, demanded that jurors never see any photographs of her injuries and, after losing those battles, asked to change his plea from "not guilty" to "not guilty by reason of insanity." A veteran psychiatrist examined Maryland and concluded unequivocally that while he has average intelligence and grandiose self-perceptions, he knew at the time of the beatings that his actions were illegal.
Because he chose to be his own lawyer, Maryland gave an opening statement that hailed himself as "a good husband" who gave Valerie "everything she wanted." He also took advantage of his opportunity to question—retorture?—his ex-wife on the witness stand, where he kept her for nearly nine hours. He demanded that she tell the jury that sex with him was "incredible."
Here's the most revealing exchange:
Maryland: "Isn't it true, Valerie, you told me that I could fuck you up?"
Maryland: "You asked me to kill you; do you remember that?"
Maryland: "At some point, do you remember telling me that you were the Devil and that you were sent here to destroy a life?"
A flustered Maryland took the witness stand, questioned himself for more than a day and told jurors they can't hold him responsible if his ex-wife responded to the beatings with appreciation.
"She's, like, 'I'm really sorry this happened' . . . da, da, da, da," he testified. "And she said, 'Do you forgive me?' The Bible tells me if somebody asks you for forgiveness, you're supposed to give them forgiveness. And I forgave her. I said, 'Of course, I do. You're not perfect.'"
During sidebar conversations with Conley, he repeatedly explained that Valerie deserved her beating because she had "disrespected me."
In his closing argument, Maryland called Valerie "a liar," the prosecution's evidence "weak," and his trial a "sideshow" run by "a kangaroo court" determined to criminalize the "civil" affairs between a husband and a wife.
"If you have your notebooks handy," he tearfully told the jury. "I would appreciate you just writing down one word: Agreement! Agreement! Agreement! Why is this word so important? Because, ladies and gentlemen, the word 'agreement' disproves any criminal intent on my part. I may have done the action, but I did not have the intent, and without intent, there is no crime. We had an agreement!"
The jury agreed with prosecutor Lynda Fernandez, who said, "Don't let the defendant manipulate you with his crocodile tears and his invocation of the Bible."
They convicted him on all 18 felony charges. Conley rendered punishment: more than 140 years in prison.
* * *
A year ago, state officials acting in response to complaints from crime victims, including the distressed parents of a teenager contacted by her convicted molester, announced that prisoners would no longer be permitted to have personal Internet pages. The new rule hasn't impacted Maryland, who currently has at least three Facebook pages and a Match.com entry.
In his online-dating-service ad, he describes himself as a "Christian American man" who doesn't smoke ("No way!") and "never" drinks. He sells himself as "smart, funny, sexy [and] enlightened" Taurus. He's interested in "coffee and conversation, business networking, dining out, movies/videos, museums and art, music and concerts, and exploring new areas."
He does admit he's in prison because he "discovered his ex-wife cheating on him." For interested women, he adds that he's also a "television/motion-picture producer and CEO" who worked on The X-Files. (He doesn't say that while he did play an FBI agent in a lone episode standing next to star David Duchovny, he appeared for less than 40 seconds.) The ad includes a sloppily cropped photo of Maryland trying to look debonair.
Busch—who told KROQ she is frustrated by Maryland's "naysayers"—added her own endorsement: "RARE FIND! [Maryland] believes what you 'put out,' you get back abundantly. . . . Don't let him get away!"
* * *
Maryland is hoping for a miracle to free him from a sentence that keeps him incarcerated until he's 185 years old. In media interviews, Busch said she hopes judges will see the mistake and free him this year. But in 2009, a California Court of Appeal in Santa Ana thoroughly considered and rejected his complaints. Justice Richard D. Fybel opined that Maryland had displayed "an extreme indifference to [his ex-wife's] life."
In the past two years, the California Supreme Court and a U.S. District Court declined to overturn the convictions. Maryland refuses to give up. Busch filed a new motion with the court of appeal in late July.
In the brief, Maryland now claims that a forensic scientist in the Orange County Crime Lab lied about the presence of Valerie's blood on a knife found at the crime scene. He says the substance wasn't blood, but rather "chocolate pudding" and concludes a new trial is necessary.
"Are we living in a communist society?" he wrote. "If this judgment is allowed to stand, the message being sent—our constitutional rights as U.S. citizens have been summarily abrogated, ignored and destroyed . . . in a communist wave following Marxist tenets."
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He'd blamed Valerie, deputies, prosecutors and the judge. He'd even blamed cocaine, the Devil and Marxism. He's now found a new excuse.
His "all-white jury," Maryland told the justices, "thought I was another O.J. Simpson and that this time they would get it right. I was completely prejudiced [against]. I feel like I was railroaded. I want my freedom and livelihood back again. I want justice."
This article appeared in print as "Prince of Darkness: Prince Edward Maryland, a notoriously savage rapist, claims it's okay to donate to his anti-domestic-violence charity because he's repentant."