A voice for the innocent

Jon Hatami, prosecutor for the Complex Victims Unit, sits in his SCV home in this 2019 Signal file photo. Dan Watson/The Signal

Advocate. Father. Husband. Veteran. Survivor.

A number of titles apply to Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, who lives in Santa Clarita with his wife and two kids, but his work with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office also can be all-consuming at times.

Hatami is one of three attorneys working as part of an elite team known as the Complex Child Abuse Unit.

It makes sense for Hatami now, but he readily admits that he never thought that the life he lives — happily married to lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, fighting for children professionally — would be the life for which he was destined.

Jon Hatami, prosecutor for the Complex Victims Unit at home. Dan Watson/The Signal

Rough beginning

Born in New York, Jon came from an abusive home, describing his childhood as “difficult,” with his family moving to Florida before coming to the Santa Clarita Valley when he was about 7 years old.

“I had a really tough childhood — I’m a little broken,” he said. The trauma from his childhood left him questioning himself for a long time, he added.

“I think I was really scared to be a dad and I was scared to be married,” Hatami said. “It’s a work in progress — life was difficult.”

However, Hatami said he considers his faith an important aspect of his life, and believes there is a reason for the role he has.

“I am religious,” he said, “I believe God wants me to do what I’m doing.”

He went on to attend Sierra Vista and Canyon High before deciding to join the Army.

In the Army now

After graduation, Hatami saw the Army as a good option for him, as it helped it work through some of the issues he was still carrying from his childhood, he said.

“I think part of me was mad, that, I didn’t have a dad for some parts of my life, which was difficult; I was also mad for the abuse I was dealing with (from childhood) and I was also mad and I had anger-management issues,” he said.

However, his service provided him with an outlet for the feelings he was working through.

“You can work out some of your aggressions toward a positive goal,” he said. “The military made me feel better about myself.”

He became a member of the military police, and one of the things that truly stands out from his service being stationed, of all places, in his hometown.

Hatami recalls seeing gunfights in the streets when he and his fellow service members came to town during the Los Angeles riots in 1992.

“It was scary at first, but also it was wild because this was my home,” he said of Los Angeles.

Ultimately, the residents came to appreciate the safety and calm the additional police presence brought, he said, recalling the positive reactions he saw toward the end of their weeks-long stay in L.A.

Back home

When he finished his service, honorably discharged as a staff sergeant, he was a much more confident man, but still not completely clear on what his next mission would be.

Following in the footsteps of many other 20-somethings in the SCV, he took classes at College of the Canyons, ultimately finding a calling in criminal justice.

“I don’t know if I had the ability at a young age to think that I was going to be anything,” Hatami said, relating back to his troubled childhood.

“When I went to COC at first, I wanted to go to college, I wanted to have that college experience,” he said.

He ultimately found his path at College of the Canyons, deciding to pursue a criminal justice degree. He worked construction jobs to support himself, as money from his G.I. Bill helped with tuition, and he transferred to California State University, Northridge.

Jon Hatami, prosecutor for the Complex Victims Unit at home. Dan Watson/The Signal

Joining the District Attorney’s Office

Hatami had the opportunity to study law at the University of Nebraska, where a scholarship helped him earn his degree.He took a job in New York, and then returned to California, where he worked as a civil attorney for at time, handling bankruptcies and personal injury cases.

His heart was not in his work, however, and he felt there was a bigger purpose he should be working toward — which led him to apply for and garner a coveted spot with the LADA, where he now works.

Ultimately, his work with the D.A.’s office helped him continue his progress toward achieving goals he never thought possible for himself, he said.

He started working in the Antelope Valley office, and during that time, he met his wife, after a friend mentioned to Hatami, who was single at the time, that there was a “cute” deputy working as a bailiff in courtroom A-11 at the Antelope Valley courthouse.

“Me being single, I went over to A-11 and (Jon’s wife) Roxanne was the bailiff there, and we started talking,” he said. “We both lived in Santa Clarita, and me being a D.A. and her being a deputy, we already had a lot in common.”

Hatami ultimately ended up proposing to her inside the same courtroom the two met, when Jon surprised her by pretending that he needed to stop by the courthouse to grab a file on their way out of town during a Thanksgiving weekend in 2010. The two married the following March.

Jon Hatami, prosecutor for the Complex Victims Unit works at home on his dining room table as his children, Jonathan, 6, and Lindsey,4, color at the table with him. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I got lucky, ya know?” he said, “she’s my soulmate.”

The two now are now happily married with two children, and work together to manage the hectic schedules that come with the the success both have had in their respective careers. (Roxanne currently serves as a lieutenant at the SCV Sheriff’s Station, which has made their schedules somewhat easier as far as the commute and logistics go.)

In addition to fighting for victims in the courtroom, Hatami also has worked in Sacramento on legislation for these victims, such as Senate Bill 756, which was signed into law and increased the availability of restitution for those who have survived child abuse.  

“My job is just to put (the truth) out there and present the entire case so the jury gets to see everything,” he said, “and they get to see the truth.”

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