Barger: No justice in case of sex abuser sentenced to youth facility

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger speaks during the Regional Center Legislative Town Hall at Bella Vida SCV Senior Center on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Supervisor Kathryn Barger said justice “simply didn’t happen” in the decision to sentence 26-year-old Hannah Tubbs — a transgender woman who admitted to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Palmdale in 2014 — to two years in a juvenile facility on Thursday.  

According to Barger, it was not Superior Court Judge Mario Berrera’s fault for the “unsatisfactory” sentencing, but instead the fault of L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón. 

“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 issued on Thursday. “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.” 

“To carry out justice, all of the oars in the criminal justice system must be rowing in the same direction. Today, that simply didn’t happen,” Barger added.  

Tubbs’ case stems from her sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in a Denny’s bathroom in Palmdale in 2014. Tubbs was not arrested and charged with the crime until January 2021, and had previous arrests in Idaho and Washington on suspicion of battery, drug possession and probation violations.  

Additionally, she had a previous allegation of sexual assault against a minor, but the charges were dropped, the Los Angeles Times reported. Tubbs has been in custody for the 2014 sexual assault since last year and had been ordered in December to spend two years in a juvenile facility.      

The Times reported, as well, that Thursday’s hearing had been in response to the L.A. County Probation Department requesting that Tubbs be housed in a jail facility for adults. However, due to the 2014 Palmdale victim not wishing to testify and the state Legislature having limited a judge’s ability to transfer someone from a juvenile facility to adult custody, Barrera ultimately denied the request to house Tubbs with other adults.   

Tubbs was 17 years old at the time of the sexual assault in Palmdale.  

In a letter sent to Barger earlier this month regarding his decision-making in the case, Gascón told the Fifth District supervisor that she had voted for the Youth Justice Reimagined report that, in part, prevents those who commit crimes as juveniles to be tried as an adult.  

“In so doing you showed cleared support for the data presented mandating we treat children as children and take advantage of the scientifically proven ability to rehabilitate the adolescent brain,” read the letter to Barger. “My current youth justice directives fall in line with the mission espoused by the board.”  

“Though I stand by my practice of retaining all youth under 18 in juvenile jurisdiction, I believe that we have honored your request to carefully evaluate each case,” Gascón added.  

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