Three years after the ex-wife of a Pasadena city councilman pleaded no contest to a felony charge of having sex with a minor, a judge reduced her conviction to a misdemeanor.
Michelle Holden, 38, the former wife of Pasadena City Councilman Chris Holden, had been serving three years' probation for the 1998 offense.
Holden pleaded no contest to a single felony count of having sexual intercourse with a minor, a 15-year-old boy who was the baby-sitter for Holden's three children, in May 1999. At that time, she was ordered to seek counseling and undergo random drug testing. Under the plea bargain, she avoided having to register as a sex offender.
Holden's lawyer, Mark Geragos, said he is extremely pleased with the decision by Superior Court Judge Joseph DeVano, which effectively dismissed the case.
"I'm happy she has put this behind her," Geragos said. "She has all kinds of plans that now she can go forward with."
By dismissing the case, DeVano spared Holden the stigma of being branded a felon, Geragos said.
Leo Terrell, the attorney representing the boy and his family, called the reversal of the conviction an outrage.
"Here is the former wife of the former mayor of the city," Terrell said. "The example she has set is, 'I should get this reduced because I am special.' She should be made an example of because of her status in the community."
Terrell said that although Holden agreed last year to pay $25,000 to settle a civil suit against her, she has yet to pay any part of that settlement.
In early 2000, Holden filed for bankruptcy, declaring $1 million in debts and $364,000 in assets.
Asked about the prospects of Holden paying the settlement, Geragos said: "I told [Terrell] at the time it was uncollectable, and I am a man of my word."