Under fire, LADA Gascón backtracks on sentence of woman who assaulted 10-year-old

A white-haired man in dark glasses and suit
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón is facing increased criticism over his handling of juvenile cases.
(Associated Press)

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in a statement Sunday night that the sentence of a woman who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Palmdale may have been too short.

The county’s top prosecutor, who on Friday backtracked on his controversial policies that prohibit pursuing life sentences against defendants and trying juveniles as adults, said in the statement that he was made aware after Hannah Tubbs’ sentencing of “extremely troubling statements she made about her case, the resolution of it and the young girl that she harmed.”

On Monday morning, Fox News reported that Tubbs crowed over her light punishment and spoke of the victim in explicit terms in phone calls to her father, which were captured in jailhouse recordings.


“They’re gonna stick me on probation, and it’s gonna be dropped, it’s gonna be done, I won’t have to register, won’t have to do nothing,” Fox quoted Tubbs as saying in the taped recordings.

The Times could not independently verify the tapes cited by the network.

Prosecutors say Tubbs was two weeks shy of her 18th birthday when she walked into the women’s restroom of a Denny’s restaurant in 2014, grabbed a 10-year-old girl by the throat and locked her in a stall, court records show. Tubbs then shoved her hand down the girl’s pants and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors say, stopping only after someone else entered the restroom. Tubbs, now 26, pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility. Her criminal record includes another allegation of sexual abuse of a child.

In a major shift, L.A. County’s top prosecutor said he will allow his office to seek life sentences and to try juveniles as adults in some cases.

Feb. 18, 2022

“While for most people several years of jail time is adequate, it may not be for Ms. Tubbs,” Gascón said in the statement. “If we knew about her disregard for the harm she caused we would have handled this case differently. The complex issues and facts of her particular case were unusual, and I should have treated them that way. This change in policy will allow us the space to do that moving forward.”

In a statement prepared before Gascón’s backtrack, the victim called the assault “beyond horrible.”

“I’ve waited years for this whole situation to finally be finished and that I could get justice for what had happened to me all those years ago,” she said. “Not only do I have to live with that awful memory for the rest of my life, but I’m also given no true justice as to what happened to me.”

Critics have decried Gascón’s so-called blanket policies since he took office in late 2020, and demanded he consider trying juveniles as adults or seeking life sentences when defendants are accused of especially heinous conduct. On Friday, the district attorney announced that committees will be created to evaluate “extraordinary” cases in which a defendant’s conduct might require harsher penalties than those allowed under Gascón’s policies, according to documents reviewed by The Times.


The filings would still need to be approved by each committee, which will include high-ranking prosecutors and members of Gascón’s executive team. Gascón’s chief of staff, Joseph Iniguez, will sit on both committees, and former public defender Alisa Blair, who oversees the office’s policies on juvenile cases, will sit on the panel deciding the futures of teen defendants, according to the documents.

In Sunday’s statement, Gascón appears to indicate that Tubbs’ case could have been considered “extraordinary” under this new system. He said his office has “now implemented policies to create a different pathway for outlier cases while simultaneously creating protections to prevent these exceptions from becoming the rule.”

“This process ensures that only in the rarest of cases, where our system has failed, will we diverge from our principles,” Gascón wrote.

The policy changes come as Gascón is facing increased criticism over his handling of juvenile cases and the political pressure of a second attempt to recall him from office. The committee seeking to recall Gascón from office has already raised $1.8 million, more than the total sum pooled to back a failed recall campaign last year.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón has revised his blanket ban on trying juveniles as adults, which had drawn the ire of critics.

Feb. 16, 2022

In an interview with The Times in January, Gascón said the Tubbs case was complicated by the gap in time between the attack and Tubbs’ identification, her criminal record and the effect the attack had on the victim. The young girl has since moved away from California and remains in therapy, according to an impact statement read in court last month, and Gascón said she did not want to testify at trial.

At 26, Tubbs is too old to be legally held in a county juvenile detention facility. But in the three years since Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his plans to dissolve the state Division of Juvenile Justice, which would normally house defendants in situations similar to Tubbs’, the county has not put together a replacement program.


The Times reviewed an email that said Tubbs has been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses and might qualify as “developmentally disabled,” factors that would raise legal questions about her culpability. The district attorney also expressed concern that Tubbs would be victimized if placed in an adult facility as a transgender woman and noted that a probation report recommended Tubbs be sentenced to home confinement. Instead, Gascón said, prosecutors asked for Tubbs to be kept in custody for two years where she could receive treatment and therapy.