This month, a court hearing will decide whether to sentence a 26-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Palmdale will be sentenced to a brief stay in juvenile hall or granted probation, sparking yet another round of outrage over Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s “all-or-nothing” criminal justice reform platform.
Increasing frustration has been expressed by law enforcement authorities and lawmakers in recent weeks over the convoluted case of Hannah Tubbs, who claim that the incident shows the problem with Gascón’s blanket restriction on trying juveniles as adults.
In 2014, prosecutors claim Tubbs entered a Denny’s women’s restroom and grabbed a 10-year-old girl by the throat before locking her in a stall, according to court records. Tubbs, who identifies as female, was two weeks shy of her 17th birthday at the time of the alleged attack, according to court records. Tubbs then allegedly forced her hand down the girl’s pants and sexually abused her, according to prosecutors, and only stopped when another person entered the washroom.
In response, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $20,000 prize for information leading to an arrest in the case, which garnered worldwide publicity at the time. Nonetheless, Tubbs’ DNA was not linked to the crime until 2019, when she was arrested in Idaho on suspicion of battery and her DNA was entered into a database, according to Lt. Richard Ruiz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau. Tubbs was arrested on suspicion of battery and her DNA was entered into a database in 2019.
In early 2020, shortly after Gascón took office, prosecutors filed charges against Tubbs. He has flatly refused to try juveniles as adults, citing scientific studies showing that adolescents’ brain development is not complete until they reach the age of 25. He also believes that young offenders can still be rehabilitated in juvenile detention, whereas they would only be hardened if they were tried as adults.
The criminal record of Tubbs, on the other hand, stretches beyond the Denny’s incident and into her adult life.
Besides Idaho and Washington, where she currently has a pending misdemeanour case, she’s been arrested for violence, drug possession, and probation breaches in both states, according to Ruiz. According to Ruiz and a check of court records, Tubbs was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon in Kern County and had previously been accused of sexually abusing a minor, an allegation that did not result in a prosecution, according to Ruiz. Both cases were not returned after several phone calls were made to the Kern County district attorney’s office seeking additional information.