Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Friday she’s concerned there is a growing trend that the rights of victims of some of the most violent crimes are not being protected under District Attorney George Gascón’s administration. She has now stepped in to help two rape victims.
“I’m concerned about the trend that I’m seeing taking place, and someone has to speak up for the victims,” she said in a phone interview Friday.
On Thursday, Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, wrote a letter to Gascón with concerns about his special directives, asking for a “thorough review” on the Ruben Beltran case.
Beltran has been serving a sentence of 15 years to life since 2004, after he was convicted of sexual assault of a child with the intent to commit sodomy by force or fear on children he had lived with and who were as young as 6 years old. He is scheduled to have his first parole hearing March 11. Under Gascón’s reforms, the deputy district attorneys who convicted Beltran will not be able to attend the hearing.
Barger learned about the matter after the mother whose young children were raped by Beltran recently reached out to her office, she said.
“The letter to Gascón was really to ask him to take a look at what he’s doing and making sure he’s complying with all the laws that do protect victims,” said Barger. “My frustration is that you’ve got individuals that have been tried and convicted in this case and the DA is not allowing the attorneys to be there on behalf of the victims.”
A spokesman with the D.A.’s Office declined to comment on the matter via email Friday.
The supervisor said she’s stepping up as an elected official.
“I’ve been elected to represent the people and to uphold the laws that are on the books and there are constitutional laws on the books for the very purpose of ensuring that victims’ rights are protected, and I’m going to make sure that they are followed,” she said.
Barger also wrote a letter Thursday to the Board of Parole Hearings urging commission members to “please deny Ruben Beltran parole and protect the public from this potential repeat rapist.”
The family victims of Beltran are not the only ones Barger has spoken with, she said, adding that she has also spoken with Tania Owen, who is seeking justice for her murdered husband and L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Steve Owen, but fears that may not happen with Gascón’s series of directives that have eliminated special circumstances allegations.
“I will speak up as well on that because for me, it’s remembering exactly who the D.A. is in charge of protecting and that is, you know, the people,” said Barger.
Deputy DA lawsuit against Gascón
The lawsuit brought forth by the union for Los Angeles County prosecutors against the D.A. and with an aim to stop his directives, which they called “not merely radical, but plainly unlawful,” is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 2.
Ahead of the hearing, attorneys for Gascón argued last week that the union seeking “extraordinary judicial intervention” would compel the D.A.’s Office “to plead sentencing enhancements to dramatically increase sentences against certain criminal defendants,” according to the lawsuit.
“This is in spite of the fact that the district attorney, the representative duly-elected by the people, has implemented these policies in the wake of significant research showing excessive sentencing practices yield no public safety benefit and do not promote the interests of justice,” reads the case, which attorneys added that the union’s argument “is wrong.”
Judge James C. Chalfant is expected to hold the hearing.