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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS / GOVERNOR : Brown Calls Wilson Ad on Rape Bill ‘Despicable Lie’ : She demands the commercial be withdrawn. Governor’s aides refuse, denying that it is false.

TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

Calling the ad “a despicable lie,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Brown demanded Monday that Republican Gov. Pete Wilson cancel a television commercial that claims she is opposed to the so-called “one-strike” bill to impose longer prison terms on first-time rapists and child molesters.

In a letter sent to Wilson’s campaign office by facsimile, Brown said, “This time, Pete, you crossed the line and I will not let you get away with it.”

The Wilson campaign denied Brown’s charge that the ad misrepresents her position and refused to withdraw the commercial.

Wilson campaign manager George Gorton said in a statement that the “real news” is that Brown now backs a modified “one-strike” bill, adding: “If she now wishes to debate the merits of the different ‘one-strike’ bills, let’s have at it.”

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Brown denounced the commercial as “a lie” at a news conference Monday morning in front of the Los Angeles County Courthouse. Appearing with Brown to endorse her views were several deputy district attorneys from the Los Angeles County prosecutor’s office.

They included Lauren Weis, identified as chief deputy in charge of prosecution of rape and molestation crimes, who said, “His (Wilson’s) ad is an outrage to women and victims of rape.”

Weis, saying she was speaking on her own and not for the district attorney, added, “You won’t find anyone tougher on rapists and child molesters than Kathleen Brown.”

In the Wilson ad, an announcer says: “Wilson has pushed for a tough ‘one-strike’ law; life in prison for rapists and child molesters on their first conviction.

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“Kathleen Brown thinks differently. She opposed Wilson’s ‘one-strike’ law.”

That is accurate to the extent that Brown and others opposed a mandated life term without parole on a first offense.

Weis said the bill Wilson initially supported, which would have imposed life terms for first-time rapists, would have made it virtually impossible for prosecutors to win convictions for spousal or acquaintance rape or in cases where a jury had to convict or acquit on the basis of the victim’s word against that of the accused.

The bill had little or no chance of passing the Legislature in the form that Wilson backed it and has since been amended to delete the life in prison without parole. Instead, the most serious offenses would be subject to terms of 25 years to life.

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Brown endorsed the amended legislation, sponsored by Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach).

But Wilson’s ad--at the same time the announcer says Brown opposed Wilson’s “one-strike” law--says in writing on the screen that Brown opposes “the ‘one-strike’ law” without specifying Wilson’s version or some other form of the legislation.

The Wilson ad also included a statement from Carol Rose, identified as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, saying, “It’s unconscionable that Kathleen Brown could oppose the ‘one-strike’ bill.”

Campaign manager Gorton insisted that “this ad is explicitly about the governor’s tough ‘one-strike’ proposal, not the subsequent compromise bill that is pending in the Legislature.”

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Gorton also said Brown’s campaign had “shamelessly exploited the emotions of rape” in an earlier ad in which Brown accused Wilson of failing to halt the release from prison of a convicted rapist. Wilson argued that he had no legal authority to keep the man in prison.

“Rape is an ugly word and deed, and Pete Wilson believes it should be treated more harshly than does Kathleen Brown,” Gorton said.

Wilson has said he will sign the amended Bergeson bill into law if it reaches his desk, but that he still will push for the mandatory life term as well.


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