A 26-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Palmdale could be sentenced to a short stay in juvenile hall or given probation at a court hearing this month. ci, triggering a new wave of outrage in Los Angeles. County Dist. Atti. George Gascón’s all-or-nothing criminal justice reform platform.
Hannah Tubbs’ complicated case has sparked growing frustration from law enforcement officials and politicians in recent weeks, who say the situation once again highlights the problem of the blanket ban on Gascón to judge minors as adults.
Tubbs, who identifies as female, was two weeks shy of her 17th birthday when prosecutors say she entered the women’s restroom of a Denny’s restaurant in 2014, grabbed a 10-year-old girl by the throat and locked her in a stall, court records show. Tubbs then thrust his hand into the girl’s pants and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors say, only stopping after someone else entered the bathroom.
The case drew attention at the time, and the LA County Board of Supervisors issued a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. But Tubbs was only linked to the crime in 2019, when her DNA was entered into a database after she was arrested on suspicion of assault in Idaho, Special Bureau of Justice Lt. Richard Ruiz said. victims of the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
Prosecutors filed charges against Tubbs in early 2020, shortly after Gascón took office. Reform-minded prosecutor adamantly refuses to try juveniles as adults, citing scientific studies showing adolescent brain development isn’t complete until age 25 and saying young offenders can still be rehabilitated in juvenile detention, whereas they would only be hardened in adult prisons. .
But Tubbs’ criminal record extends beyond Denny’s attack and into his adult life.
She has also been arrested for assault, drug possession and probation violations in Idaho and Washington, where she also has an ongoing misdemeanor case, Ruiz said. Tubbs was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in Kern County and faced an earlier allegation of sexual assault on a minor, which did not result in prosecution, according to Ruiz and a review of court records. Multiple calls to the Kern County District Attorney’s office requesting additional information about the two cases were not returned.
A final decision on Tubbs’ case was due earlier this month, but hearings have been delayed because the defendant is in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, Ruiz said. In the meantime, supporters of a renewed effort to recall Gascón from office and area politicians have seized on the case as proof that the district attorney’s policies are harmful.
“It is useless to catch criminals like [Tubbs] if we don’t go all the way and seek justice for victims like the 10-year-old girl [she] sexually assaulted. She bears the burden of a lifetime of trauma,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district includes Palmdale, said in a statement. “[She] will be offered therapeutic interventions under the auspices of “restorative justice”…and may only be granted probation or parole. Where is the justice for [her] young victim and his family?
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, a frequent critic of Gascón, also complained about the matter online and had scheduled a press conference to discuss the matter this week with recall officials and organizations. of victims of crime, but the event was cancelled.
In an interview, Gascón said the case was complicated by the time between the attack and Tubbs’ capture, his criminal record, and the impact of the attack on the victim. The girl has since left California and remains in therapy, according to an impact statement read in court last month, and Gascón said the victim did not want to testify at trial.
The Times also reviewed an email that said Tubbs had been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses and could also qualify as “developmentally disabled,” factors that would raise legal questions about his guilt. One of Tubbs’ public defenders declined to discuss the case, insisting they were prohibited from doing so by state law.
The district attorney also expressed concern that Tubbs herself could be victimized if she was placed in an adult facility as a transgender woman and noted that a probation report actually recommended that Tubbs be sentenced to custody. home. Instead, Gascón said, prosecutors requested that Tubbs be held in custody for two years, where she could receive treatment and therapy.
Even then, the county’s ability to house Tubbs was questioned. At 26, Tubbs is too old to be legally detained in a county juvenile detention center. But in the three years since Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to disband the state’s Juvenile Justice Division, which would normally house defendants in similar situations in Tubbs, the county hasn’t has not implemented a replacement program.
When questioned at a hearing in the Tubbs case last month, a probation service official acknowledged that there was no sex offender treatment program available in the current juvenile system, according to a transcript of the court reviewed by The Times.
Karla Tovar, a spokeswoman for the probation service, said the alternate DJJ where Tubbs is expected to be housed – known as the Secure Youth Treatment Center – does not have a permanent location and is not None will exist without the action of the LA County Board of Supervisors. .
There are currently 14 minors who would otherwise have been assigned to DJJ in the custody of the probation service who remain “housed in separate quarters and receive programs and services according to their needs. All clients take high school or college courses.
But Jerod Gunsberg, an attorney who often defends teenagers charged with violent crimes, said youths in that style of housing were simply warehoused at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar.
“There is no programming,” he said. “There are no rehabilitation programs that are different from what the probation service offers in the pre-trial juvenile hall, which is minimal.”
Due to shortcomings in the probation department’s setup, the sheriff’s department offered to house Tubbs in a county adult facility, Ruiz said. The legality of the compromise, which Gascón called a “band-aid” specific to this case, will be decided by a judge later this month.
Still, many believe that Gascón’s handling of the case is the bigger issue. Jon Hatami, a longtime crimes against children prosecutor who has become a leading voice in the removal movement, said the charges clearly should have been brought in adult court.
“It clearly shows you the dangerous aspect of the general policy of George Gascón,” he said. “Here you have a person who has committed at least two separate sexual assaults on young girls who is now 26 and has a history of violent conduct in the past. He’s not someone who should show up in the juvenile system.