Chef at L.A. Hotspot Accuses Her Husband of Domestic Violence and Killing Their Cats
"In the past, Will and I have had cats that mysteriously ended up dying," the chef at Horses, Elizabeth Johnson, alleges of her husband and co-owner in the restaurant
Elizabeth Johnson, the chef and owner of celebrity hot spot Horses, is accusing her husband, William Aghajanian, of domestic violence and animal abuse.
In November of 2022, Johnson filed for divorce from her husband, the co-owner in their restaurant, and she also requested a domestic violence restraining order. In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Johnson alleges "a decade of emotional, sexual, and financial abuse," along with physical abuse against both herself and their pets. The Los Angeles Times was the first to report on the news.
"In the past, Will and I have had cats that mysteriously ended up dying, including one in 2017 who I took to a shelter when she became seriously wounded overnight," Johnson wrote in the filing. "The shelter told me she had been seriously abused, but Will denied it was him."
In 2022, Johnson then recalled that the pair got another kitten that wouldn't go near her estranged husband after a couple days. She alleged that Aghajanian didn't like the new pet and said "we were going to feed him to the coyotes."
While Johnson was in the shower one day, she heard a "very loud yelp" and found the kitten with serious injuries — she said Aghajanian said their dog attacked it. Ultimately, Johnson claimed Aghajanian "forbade" her from taking the kitten to the vet.
"Several days later, I caught Will violently shaking the cat late at night, and he died the next day," she wrote. "Will put the dead cat in the trash and insisted on keeping the corpse in the house."
In the documents, Johnson said since she was a "victim of psychological and mental abuse," she initially believed her husband when he "denied killing these animals."
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She added: "He would insist I was crazy for questioning him and tell me to keep quiet. I now realize Will was torturing and killing these animals."
Aghajanian denied the claims, calling them "false allegations," according to the L.A. Times.
"I love cats, mice. And every other animal under gods/allah whatever each religion calls him/her and have loved all animals since I was a child," Aghajanian told the outlet. "I have problems killing lobster, and usually try to do it in the most humane way possible."
PEOPLE reached out to Aghajanian's lawyers for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Horses L.A. put out a statement on Instagram addressing the situation.
"William Aghajanian has been on a leave of absence from Horses as of November 2022, and since then has not been involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant," the statement read. "Under the guidance of Chef Liz, our incredible front and back of house teams are working to continuously make Horses what she had always intended it to be – a place of joy and celebration."
A source close to Horses confirmed to PEOPLE that Aghajanian is "not associated with the restaurant and hasn't been since [Johnson] filed the order."
"He seemed normal at work," the source added. "No one would have suspected it."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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