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Woman who was abused as child gets light sentence in burglaries

FamilyCourts and the JudiciaryJustice SystemCrime, Law and Justice

A woman whose father repeatedly raped her as a child is expected to leave jail within days after a Los Angeles County judge sentenced her Friday to two years and eight months for helping gang members burglarize homes in Tujunga, authorities said.

Tatiana Thibes, 33, was given credits of nearly three years for the time she spent behind bars awaiting trial and sentencing, clearing the way for her release. She faced a maximum prison term of more than 12 years.

Thibes' case posed a thorny challenge for prosecutors and judges, who had to decide an appropriate sentence for someone who had committed serious crimes but who had also endured a horrific childhood.

"Because of her background, I believe it's time to see if she can rehabilitate herself," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Gallegly, who prosecuted Thibes. "If anyone deserves it, it's her.... She's had a hellish experience."

Thibes' attorney, Ron Seabold, said Superior Court Judge Dalila Corral Lyons expressed hope during Friday's sentencing hearing that Thibes would take advantage of the lenient punishment by obtaining the counseling she needs.

Thibes, he said, tearfully thanked the judge and promised to stay out of trouble. She said she had learned her lesson and wants to make sure she does not lose permanent custody of her five children, Seabold recounted.

"She was ecstatic," Seabold said. "It's the right call.... She needs help and direction. She's not a bad person."

The sentencing came about four and a half years after Thibes' father, Lindolfo, was sentenced to 109 years to life in prison for more than a dozen counts of rape and other types of sexual assault on his daughter.

Seabold said his client will enter a residential program next week in which she can obtain mental health and substance abuse counseling. He said a dependency court could strip Thibes of her parental rights over her children if she fails to go through with the counseling.

A jury last year convicted Thibes and three men of residential burglary and attempted burglary and concluded the 2010 crimes were to benefit a street gang.

Thibes admitted to police that she had knocked on doors for her boyfriend, a gang member, and his friends. She has expressed remorse and described her boyfriend as violent and controlling. She says she has never been in a gang.

The men were sentenced to prison terms of at least 12 years. Thibes faced a likely prison sentence because she was on probation for drunk driving when the burglaries were committed.

Seabold urged authorities to release Thibes so she could undergo mental health and alcohol abuse treatment. He credited the judge and prosecutor for helping resolve the case on Friday.

"I had tears in my eyes," he said. "Since the age of 6 or 7, she's been abused or dominated by males, and she doesn't know how to say no."

After her father's arrest in 2005, Thibes told authorities that he started sexually assaulting her when she was 6.

She said he threatened to kill or blind her if she reported him and rigged the family's West Adams home with surveillance cameras to monitor her movements and prevent her escape. He tortured her by beating the soles of her feet with a wooden stick and covered her head with a plastic bag until she passed out.

At 17, she gave birth to a child by her father. By 24, she had had two more of his children. DNA tests confirmed that he was the father of the three children.

jack.leonard@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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