ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Luna Oraivej, 37, admits she got angry and broke a DVD player during an argument at home.
“I was wrong, I did something wrong,” Oraivej said. “I was being honest with police. I said ‘Yes, I stepped on it,’ but nobody touched each other, there was no physical violence.”
Because it was a domestic violence dispute, Issaquah Police arrested Oraivej for malicious mischief.
“When he [the officer] told me I had to go to jail for that, it really took me by surprise,” Oraivej said.
Oraivej was booked into the city jail and charged with a criminal misdemeanor. Her attorney and the prosecutor worked out a deal and when she got to court, the judge informed Oraivej that there was a way to make the criminal charge go away -- pay a fine and attend anger management classes.
Oraivej said on her way out of court, she picked up paperwork from a judicial clerk directing her to Court Services Institute. She said she thought it was a court sponsored program and she wasn’t given any other options.
“No, I was given this one place, this one number, call them up and they’ll tell you when to show up,” Oraivej said.
Oraivej said that she made the call and paid $180 for two all day classes to be held in a Bellevue office building.
The first class went fine. But during the second class, the instructor popped in a Dr. Phil DVD. It was supposed to inspire students to control their emotions, but it had the opposite effect for one 19-year-old student.
Oraivej said the teen began yelling: “What the [expletive] does this have to do with my life?”
Oraivej said that the instructor didn’t react, so she spoke up. “And I said, ‘Babe, it’s a really good show, just give it a chance,’ and right away she was like, "[Expletive] I know you ain’t talking to me like that.’”
Oraivej said that’s when the teen got out of her seat and lunged at her.
“She came in this way and hit me twice,” Oraivej said. “I moved back in a little bit like this to cock my arm away from her, and that’s when she caught me that third time.”
Oraivej had been stabbed with a paring knife. There were holes in her sweatshirt and a gash in her right shoulder.
“I just kept saying, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe she just stabbed me. She just stabbed me,” Oraivej said.
That’s when the instructor took the attacker out of the room and down to the lobby.
“And I was left there holding my arm and trying to dial 911 on my cell phone with blood streaming down my arm, dripping on the floor,” Oraivej said.
The aftermath was caught on a cell phone camera by a witness who was in the same building attending a different class.
The video shows the attacker, later identified as Faribah Maradiaga, sitting in the lobby swearing and muttering threats.
Oraivej can be heard talking to the 911 operator. The instructor also called. Then police arrive and take over. A police officer is heard yelling at Maradiaga, “Bellevue Police, come out of the building now. Put up your hands.”
Maradiaga complied and was taken into custody. According to police, Maradiaga later signed a written statement explaining her actions: “The girl made a threat comment to me and I blew up out of control and tried hitting her stabbed her and then I was arrested.”
After the teen was taken away by police, Oraivej said she had to stay and finish class. She said the instructor told her, “We won’t be too much longer, I just have a few more things to cover with you and then you can go.”
Oraivej said she needed the certificate to present to the court. After she finished the class she said she drove herself to the emergency room to get the gash in her shoulder stitched up.
And she hired a lawyer. Attorney Andrew Ackley said that he did some digging and learned that “Court Services Institute” is not a court-sponsored program, but a private for-profit company. He said he also learned that Maradiaga had a history of violent outbursts before that day, including an attack on a high school principal.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office charged Maradiaga with the assault on Oraivej but the teen failed to show up for court and there is now a felony warrant out for her arrest.
“There’s really no excuse for someone being stabbed in an anger management class. It clearly didn’t come out of nowhere,” said Ackley.
Anger management programs are not certified in the state of Washington so there are no minimum standards for how they’re taught. Dr. Marsha Linehan, U.W. Professor of Psychology and an expert on anger management, thinks that’s a problem.
“As long as you have people who can manage a group of people with anger problems running the show it can be safe and effective,” she said. “Obviously, you would want to first be sure that people don’t bring weapons in.”
Oraivej said the class did teach her one thing: “Up until this point, I really didn’t know what the word ‘ironic’ meant. Now I know.”
Oraivej said that her own anger is gone, but it’s been replaced by fear and a lingering anxiety. She said she can’t forget Maradiaga’s threats.
“It doesn’t go away, you know. Just hearing somebody tell you that they’re gonna kill you and your kids. I didn’t do anything to this girl and not only has she hurt me she wants to kill my family,” she said tearfully.
Oraivej filed a lawsuit Monday in King County Superior Court against Court Services Institute and the company’s owner and president, Lorraine W. Nelson. The suit also names the instructor who taught the class. Oraivej is seeking a refund as well as monetary damages for her injuries and emotional distress. (Read the lawsuit filed by Oraivej at the bottom of this article)
The KING 5 Investigators contacted Court Services Institute and requested an on-camera interview. The office manager said the only person who could do an interview was Lorraine Nelson but she would be out of the state until December 12.
Reached by telephone in Hawaii, Nelson said that she saw no need for changes following the stabbing. “It happened once in ten years,” she said “It was an isolated case.”
Nelson said that the instructor had worked for years as a parole officer, where he would have received training in how to handle angry people.
Oraivej had many options for receiving anger management classes, but she said she didn’t know that. She said she was directed to Court Services Institute when she received her paperwork from a clerk following her court hearing.
The Court Administrator for Issaquah Municipal Court, told KING 5 News that the court does not endorse any one program, but does make a list available at the front counter as a courtesy.