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26-Year-Old Child Molester Sentenced To 2 Years In Juvenile Lockup Due To DA’s Reform Policy

Lancaster, CA – A California judge expressed frustration with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon last week, saying he tied his hands and left him with little option but to hand down a lenient sentence in the case of a transgender woman who sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Denny’s restaurant.

Hannah Tubbs, a 26-year-old transgender woman also known as James Tubbs, was two weeks shy of her 18th birthday when she attacked the little girl on New Year’s Day of 2014, KTTV reported.

Prosecutors said Tubbs identified as a male at the time, but started identifying as female when she was arrested for the offense years later, according to FOX News.

Since shortly after taking office in December of 2020, Gascon has flatly refused to prosecute juvenile offenders as adults, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The progressive district attorney had defended his sweeping policy change by citing studies that indicate the human brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25.

He has argued that putting young adults in adult prisons would only make them more hardened, but that they could be rehabilitated if kept in the juvenile court system, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Gascon’s office filed charges against Tubbs in 2020 in connection with the sexual assault.

Due to Gascon’s refusal to prosecute her as an adult, the most California Superior Court Judge Mario Barrera could legally sentence her to was two years in a juvenile facility, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I want to be clear. The filing of a transfer motion is entirely within the discretion of the district attorney,” Barrera said during a hearing on Jan. 27.

The judge noted he was “extremely limited” in the sentences he could impose due to Gascon’s refusal to transfer the case to adult court, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Much of the hearing involved where Tubbs will serve her sentence.

She has already been in custody for one year.

Barrera ordered Tubbs to serve her time in a juvenile facility, which he noted was required by law, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Los Angeles County Probation Department attorneys had asked the judge to have Tubbs serve her term in an adult county jail.

Barrera denied that request, noting that the California Legislature has blocked judges from transferring offenders who committed their crimes as juveniles to adult facilities, even in the event the offender was no longer a juvenile at the time of sentencing, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Since Gascon refused to prosecute the case in adult court, Tubbs also won’t be required to register as a sex offender, the New York Post reported.

Deputy District Attorney Shea Sanna said Barrera’s “hands were tied” due to Gascon’s policy, FOX News reported.

“[He] decided he did not have the authority to issue an order housing Tubbs in county jail or with the sheriff’s department,” Sanna said, according to FOX News.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger agreed, but noted the outcome of the case was “unsatisfactory.”

“Judge Barrera’s hands were tied today – due to the fact that the DA’s office failed to file a motion to transfer Tubbs to adult criminal court, which is where she rightly belongs,” Barger said in a statement. “Instead, we’re left with a 26-year-old individual sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility in isolation, separated by sight and sound from the other juveniles.”

Prosecutors said the 2014 attack occurred at a Denny’s restaurant in Palmdale, KTTV reported.

Tubbs grabbed the child by the throat, locked her inside a stall, then shoved her hand down the girl’s pants and sexually assaulted her, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“[Tubbs] immediately attacked her, restrained her, and he physically penetrated her in a sexual manner,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told KTTV.

The attack only ended when someone walked into the bathroom, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Tubbs fled the restaurant and wasn’t apprehended until 2019, when a DNA sample taken from her in connection with a burglary arrest in Idaho linked her to the 2014 assault.

“He went unidentified for several years until a cold DNA hit identified him as someone who was arrested in the state of Idaho,” McKinney told KTTV.

McKinney said Tubbs racked up a slew of other criminal charges after sexually assaulting the little girl, to include being convicted of multiple assaults with deadly weapons.

Tubbs has also been arrested on probation violation, battery, and drug possession offenses out of both Washington state and Idaho, and has a pending misdemeanor case open in one jurisdiction, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office (LASD) Special Victims Unit Lieutenant Richard Ruiz said his department is outraged over Gascon’s sweeping policy change, according to KTTV.

“I would ask the public to reach out to Mr. Gascon and express their concerns and their outrage on a matter such as this involving a sexual predator,” Lt. Ruiz said. “The public should be concerned. This is a heinous crime.”

McKinney echoed the lieutenant’s concerns and said Gascon is failing to hold a dangerous criminal accountable.

“What is happening is our district attorney is ushering him right out the door, back onto the streets of this county and God knows where else he might roam,” the deputy district attorney told KTTV. “It’s madness. It makes a mockery of our criminal justice system.”

Gascon’s office refused to answer questions regarding why Tubbs’ case could not be tried in adult court, according to KTTV.

The office subsequently issued a release attempting to blame the judge for the final outcome, even though the district attorney’s decision to prosecute Tubbs in juvenile court left the judge with few options.

“The defendant entered an open plea to the court, leaving it up to the judge to decide what the sentence should be,” Gascon’s office said.

McKinney said Gascon is only “trying to distance himself” from the outcome of the case by laying blame on the judge, KTTV reported.

“In fact, it’s only happened because of his policy against transferring juvenile cases to adult court,” he said. “Two years is a pathetic outcome for man who is a career criminal with felony convictions in multiple states and who committed forcible sexual assault on a 10-year-old girl in a Denny’s bathroom.”

Gascon told the Los Angeles Times that the gap in time between the sexual assault and Tubbs’ arrest complicated the case, as did the victim’s unwillingness to testify at trial.

Tubbs has also been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses, according to the paper.

Gascon said he is concerned Tubbs could be victimized if incarcerated in an adult prison because she is transgender, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, who works in the Complex Child Abuse Unit, told the New York Post that the little girl isn’t Tubbs’ only victim.

“There are some cases where the juvenile has committed a violent crime against an innocent victim and is dangerous to society. Tubbs is one of those cases,” Hatami said. “She is now 26 years old. Unlike George Gascon’s false narrative, she is not a ‘kid.’ She has a violent criminal record as an adult. She has also sexually assaulted two young girls in different incidents. Young, innocent girls who will now have to deal with lifelong trauma.”

Critics have accused Gascon of caring more about the convicted child molester than the victim, KTTV reported.

“It’s useless to catch criminals like [Tubbs] if we don’t follow through and seek justice for victims such as the 10-year-old girl [she] sexually assaulted,” Barger told the Los Angeles Times. “She bears the burden of a lifetime of trauma.”

“[Tubbs] will be offered therapeutic interventions under the auspices of ‘restorative justice’ … and possibly granted only probation or parole. Where is the justice for [her] young victim and her family?” Barger asked.

The victim of the assault provided the court with a written statement during a Dec. 14, 2021 hearing, according to the New York Post.

The message was read aloud in court.

The victim told the judge she began receiving mental health counseling after the attack because it left her with feelings of powerlessness, worthlessness, and occasional suicidal thoughts, the New York Post reported.

“I just wanted to forget I’m part of any of this…And I’m constantly reminded of my past because of this case,” she wrote. “I live in fear most of the time, and although it’s something that I tried to tell myself isn’t my fault, I could never truly believe it. I feel that I’m to blame somehow, when I know deep down that isn’t the case.”

“I chose not to come into court because I couldn’t stand the thought of having to see my attackers’ face again,” she added. “And I hope, after all of this comes to an end my attacker gets the punishment, he deserves for attacking a child with no problem and I can finally get on with my life.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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