Woman who survived years of sexual abuse given rehab instead of jail time for burglaries

"Because of her background, I believe it's time to see if she can rehabilitate herself," said a lawyer in the case

Published December 17, 2013 8:14PM (EST)

A woman who survived years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father will leave jail this week after a Los Angeles County judge gave her credit for time served while awaiting trial for a series of burglaries. Tatiana Thibes faced a maximum sentence of more than 12 years, but instead will enter a residential program where she can access mental health services and counseling for substance dependence.

"Because of her background, I believe it's time to see if she can rehabilitate herself," said Deputy District Attorney Richard Gallegly, who prosecuted Thibes in the case. "If anyone deserves it, it's her. She's had a hellish experience."

This is what a system that prioritizes rehabilitation over needless incarceration looks like. This is what a humane criminal justice system looks like.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

The sentencing came about four and a half years after Thibes' father, Lindolfo, was sentenced to 109 years to life in prison for more than a dozen counts of rape and other types of sexual assault on his daughter. ... Thibes admitted to police that she had knocked on doors for her boyfriend, a gang member, and his friends. She has expressed remorse and described her boyfriend as violent and controlling. She says she has never been in a gang.


She said he threatened to kill or blind her if she reported him and rigged the family's West Adams home with surveillance cameras to monitor her movements and prevent her escape. He tortured her by beating the soles of her feet with a wooden stick and covered her head with a plastic bag until she passed out.

At 17, she gave birth to a child by her father. By 24, she had had two more of his children. DNA tests confirmed that he was the father of the three children.

"I had tears in my eyes," Thibes' attorney Ron Seabold told the Times. "Since the age of 6 or 7, she's been abused or dominated by males, and she doesn't know how to say no. ... She needs help and direction. She's not a bad person."

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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