Confessed child molester could serve little or no time; prosecutors furious at LA County DA

It happened on New Year’s Day 2014. James Tubbs walked into a woman’s restroom at Denny’s in Palmdale and hid in a stall. When a 10-year-old girl walked in by herself, he grabbed her and sexually molested her.

"The assault went on until someone walked into the restroom and scared him off. He fled from the restaurant, and he went unidentified for several years until a cold DNA hit identified him as someone who was arrested in the state of Idaho," said LA County Deputy District Attorney John McKinney.

During his time on the run, McKinney says Tubbs amassed a lengthy criminal record that included assaults with deadly weapons and convictions. In 2019, Tubbs was brought back to Los Angeles for prosecution on the sexual assault of the 10-year-old girl.

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Despite his criminal background and the sexual assault, which Tubbs admitted, he may end up serving very little time if any at all.  

While Tubbs is now 25, at the time of the assault, he was 17 just a few days shy of his 18th birthday.

LA County District Attorney George Gascón has a policy of not charging anyone under 18 as an adult. 

"What is happening is our district attorney is ushering him right out the door, back onto the streets of this county and God knows where else he might roam. It’s madness, it makes a mockery of our criminal justice system," says McKinney. 

Lt. Richard Ruiz with the LA County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit, the same unit that investigated the Tubbs case, says his department is outraged. 

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"I would ask the public to reach out to Mr. Gascón and express their concerns and their outrage on a matter such as this involving a sexual predator," says Ruiz.

FOX 11 News asked the LA County District Attorney’s office why this case wouldn’t be transferred to adult court. That question was not answered. Instead, the following statement was issued: "The defendant entered an open plea to the court, leaving it up to the judge to decide what the sentence should be.  Our office is seeking that he be placed in a custodial setting in a sheriff’s facility for two years." 

McKinney says, "The DA is trying to distance himself from this result and lay blame on the judge when in fact, it's only happened because of his policy against transferring juvenile cases to adult court. Two years is a pathetic outcome for man who is a career criminal with felony convictions in multiple states and who committed forcible sexual assault on a 10-year-old girl in a Denny's bathroom."

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