Story at a glance
- A 26-year-old transgender woman charged with molestation has been sentenced to a juvenile facility because she had committed the crime while she was still underage.
- The woman, Hannah Tubbs, had assaulted a 10-year-old girl in a restaurant bathroom in 2014. She admitted to the assault earlier this year.
- Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has previously argued that people who commit crimes while underage should be rehabilitated in a juvenile treatment facility, because their brains were not fully developed when they committed the crime.
A transgender woman in her mid-twenties on Thursday was sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility for a sexual assault she committed when she was still a minor, a California judge ruled.
Hannah Tubbs, 26, had earlier this year admitted to assaulting a 10-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Denny’s restaurant just north of Los Angeles in 2014, when Tubbs was 17. She had grabbed the child by her throat and put her hands down her pants until another customer had entered the restroom and intervened, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Tubbs was arrested for an unrelated crime in 2019 and her DNA was put into a national database, allowing investigators to connect her to the earlier assault. She was arrested and charged with molestation in January 2021.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, whose office is charged with holding Tubbs, has argued that the brains of juveniles are not fully developed, and people who commit crimes while underage should be rehabilitated in a juvenile treatment facility.
According to Superior Court Judge Mario Barrera, who presided over the hearing, prosecutors with Gascón’s office never filed a motion to transfer Tubbs’ case to an adult court, where she would have faced a longer prison sentence in an adult facility.
“I want to be clear,” Barrera said Thursday during Tubbs’ custody hearing. “The filing of a transfer motion is entirely within the discretion of the district attorney.”
Gascón earlier this month told the LA Times that, as a trans woman, Tubbs was likely to be victimized should she be placed in a facility for adult offenders. She would be safer in a youth facility, he said, where she could receive treatment and therapy.
Tubbs will now serve out the remaining year of her two-year sentence in isolation in a juvenile facility. Because she committed the crime while she was underage, she will not be required to register as a sex offender upon her release.
Following Thursday’s hearing, Deputy District Attorney Shea Sanna, who had backed a request to house Tubbs in a county jail for adults, said he had wanted her placed in an adult facility so she would “not be around impressionable children,” the LA Times reported.
“You have a violent child sexual predator who’s been sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility,” he said. “As a prosecutor,” he added, “I’m not here to protect child molesters.”
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA