Mother Seized, Charged Over Son’s Street Gang Ties

Times Staff Writer

In the first use of a new state law intended to hold parents responsible when they allow their children to go bad, a 37-year-old South-Central Los Angeles woman has been arrested and accused of failing her duties as a mother by allowing her 15-year-old son to participate in a street gang.

Police arrested Gloria Williams Friday and charged her with “failure to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection and control” of her teen-age son. The arrest followed the boy’s alleged participation in the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl.

Williams, who faces a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 if convicted of the misdemeanor charge, was later released on $20,000 bail.


The arrest came after detectives searched Williams’ home in the 3400 block of South West Boulevard. Inside the house, police found bedroom walls covered with graffiti. Detectives seized two photograph albums containing pictures of Williams posing in her back yard with teen-agers gesturing in Crips gang hand signs.

Williams, reached by telephone at her home Monday, denied the accusations, but said she would not elaborate until she hires a lawyer.

“All I can say is that they are wrong,” Williams said. “My son is not in a gang. The police keep putting this on him, but it is not true.”

But Deputy City Atty. Bruce Coplen said the albums showed that Williams knew about her son’s gang affiliation and may indicate that she herself was involved with the group. Police said that interviews with Williams gave further evidence that she was aware of her son’s gang activities.

The photo albums “prove without any reasonable doubt that Williams failed as a parent,” Coplen said, showing that she knowingly shirked her parental responsibilities to supervise and control her child.

Most of the pictures in the album show Williams--whom authorities said works for an electronics firm near her home--posing with Crips in blue sweat shirts, making their gang signs. Other photos show Williams’ 4-year-old son pointing a pistol at the camera and her 19-year-old daughter wearing a semi-automatic pistol in her belt.


City Atty. James K. Hahn said the photos show “not only of a willful lack of parental control on Williams’ part, but that she was actively involved in her son’s gang.”

He added: “We will not hesitate to prosecute in this type of case where we do not feel the parents have any interest in correcting their child’s behavior.”

Williams’ 15-year-old son, whose name was not released because of his age, has been convicted of auto theft and arrested over the last two years on charges of receiving stolen property and burglary, police said.

Last Friday, the teen-ager was arrested in connection with the gang rape of the girl, who told police that she was abducted from Williams’ back yard and raped by several gang members over a four-day period. Police said the girl identified Williams’ son as one of her assailants and claimed she saw weapons and drugs in the house.

After searching the small stucco home where Williams and her three children live, authorities said they were stunned at the pervasive atmosphere of gang activity within the household.

“It looked like the headquarters for the local gang,” said Robert Ferber of the city attorney’s gang unit. “There was graffiti all over the walls.”


“I was amazed. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Southwest LAPD Detective Roy Gonzaque. “In all my 20 years on the police force, I have never seen anything like this. It was obvious that the mother was just as much a part of the problem because she condoned this activity.”

Under the state’s Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (STEP), passed six months ago, such neglect is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

The law was drafted last year by Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner and then passed by the Legislature to give authorities a unique tool “to rid the streets of hoodlums that are terrorizing and killing our citizens.”

Aimed at treating street gang activity as a form of organized crime, the state law was modeled on the federal government’s sweeping Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a comprehensive package of civil and criminal laws often used to combat white-collar crime.

Despite the novel use of the law to charge Williams with gang involvement, Ferber said he suspects that most parents of delinquent children are unaware of their childrens’ criminal activities and, if they could, would make a genuine effort to control their families.

“I’ve spoken to thousands of parents, and most don’t know that their sons are in gangs,” he said. “If we see that they are really unaware of the problem and that they are making some effort to deal with it, then most parents will probably not be prosecuted. We would simply recommend that they attend some type of counseling program.”


Ferber said he does not know what penalty he will seek in the Williams case, set for arraignment in two weeks. “But I certainly don’t think she is the type of woman who will benefit from counseling,” he said.