It all started behind closed doors, some sort of disagreement between Circuit Court Clerk Marilynn M. Bland and Chief Deputy Clerk David J. Billings III. By the time it was over, Bland had accused her second in command and long-time political supporter of assaulting her.

According to what Bland told police, Billings came into her office uninvited just before 9:30 a.m. on July 9. When she tried to open the door to let another staffer in, Billings, the doctor of divinity who has been her right hand for more than a decade—he successfully ran her elections for Prince George’s County Council and her current position—grabbed her hand and pushed it off the door handle, then pushed her backward.

A court document said she then left out of a back door and contacted authorities.

Bland said her wrist was injured. She was treated on the scene by Prince George’s County fire and rescue officials for minor swelling to her wrist. Her blood pressure was elevated, according to a police report.

Billings, who turned 76 the day before, has been charged with second-degree assault in the July 9 incident. He was released on his own recognizance. “Defendant is to have no violent contact with Marilynn Bland,” the police document said.

Meanwhile, neither Billings nor Bland answered calls at their offices.

Several people who know Billings, who asked that their names not be revealed, expressed shock that he had been arrested for allegedly assaulting Bland. He has been among her closest confidantes since he ran her campaign for council in 2002, they said.

“He’s the reason why she’s in public office,” said one lawyer who has known Billings since he came to Prince George’s County. “I am sure that he would never intentionally have injured her.”

The alleged assault is not Bland’s first time to be involved in physical controversy. In 2010, she was accused of assaulting W. Randy Short, allegedly when she grew angry that he had started a meeting without her. Short told authorities that Bland “grabbed me by my collar, screaming, yelling, cursing.” County prosecutors did not prosecute Bland.

When she served on the county council, Bland drew attention when she fired her brother, who worked for her.

Bland saw tragedy first hand in 2002 when she was riding with Prince George’s County Councilman Isaac J. Gourdine in his county vehicle when he was fatally injured in a crash.