Why hasn’t Gascón transferred a serial child molester to adult criminal court?

By Kathy Cady

Last year, in response to substantial negative publicity and public push back in the Hannah Tubbs’ case, Gascón “adjusted” his strict no-transfer juvenile policy issuing the following statement: “[O]ur juvenile system in its current iteration does not provide adequate support to help [a former minor]…except through the adult system…The complex issues and facts of [this] particular case were unusual, and I should have treated them that way.” 

Unfortunately, Gascón’s epiphany in Tubbs was short lived. Another juvenile case far worse than Tubbs’ has been pending a decision on a transfer hearing for over a year. It appears that Gascón is relying on the juvenile court’s confidentiality to hide his unwillingness to authorize the transfer of Rudy Paz to criminal court. In an effort to seek justice, victims are once again compelled to shine a light on their case to highlight Gascón’s chronic lack of transparency.

Paz sexually abused multiple young boys, the youngest of whom was only 4 years old. Each victim was abused over a period of several years. Paz “groomed” these young boys and then repeatedly committed every type of sex act against them. “Grooming” is the process a sexual predator uses to build an emotional connection to manipulate kids and gain their trust – to both accomplish the abuse, and to prevent the children from reporting the abuse. The children that Paz abused didn’t tell anyone what happened until several years after the molestation stopped. Because of that, Paz wasn’t arrested until he was 24. The last known time that Paz molested one of his victims was weeks before he turned 18. 

Paz is now 25 years old but committed these crimes on much younger children when he was under 18 years old. When a sexual predator begins committing crimes before they reach the age of 18, their victims are almost always children.

Most crimes committed by juvenile offenders are correctly prosecuted in juvenile court so they can receive rehabilitation, which is expected to cure their criminal behavior. The law, however, recognizes 30 crimes for which 16- and 17-year-olds can be prosecuted in criminal court. These crimes include murder, home invasion robbery, carjacking and aggravated sexual crimes. The law sets forth factors to be considered to ensure that only those minors who can’t be rehabilitated in the juvenile system are transferred to criminal jurisdiction where the sentences for these crimes are justly commensurate with the offenses. When offenders are beyond the rehabilitation that the juvenile system can provide, the prosecution focus must shift to prioritize public safety.

As often happens in child molestation cases, Paz’ victims didn’t tell anyone what Paz had done for several years. Delayed disclosure isn’t uncommon for this insidious crime especially in cases where children were groomed by the defendant. Paz is now an adult, but because Paz committed his crimes when was under 18 years old he is currently charged in juvenile court. 

Paz can, and should, be prosecuted in criminal court. Yet Gascón believes that minors should never be prosecuted in criminal court, stating blindly, “We should treat kids like kids,” regardless of the atrocious crime they committed. 

Gascón was aware of the horrendous facts of the Tubbs’ case. Gascón knew a 10-year-old little girl was forcibly sexually assaulted in a public restroom when Tubbs was just weeks shy of age 18. He knew Tubbs was 26 years old when apprehended. He knew the juvenile system had near nothing to offer a now 26-year-old sexual predator by way of rehabilitation services because the juvenile system is designed to rehabilitate youth, not 26-year-old sophisticated predators. Gascón knew Tubbs was not remorseful. Gascón knew Tubbs was recorded on a jail call laughing about the light sentence in the juvenile system. Gascón did not listen to vociferous warnings from prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office, who are experienced in juvenile crime, about keeping Tubbs in the juvenile system. Gascón still ordered that Tubbs stay in juvenile court.

The courageous victim of Tubbs’ horrific actions said Gascón’s handling of the case was ‘insulting’ because “[t]he things Tubbs did to me and made me do that day were beyond horrible for a 10-year-old girl to have to go through.” 

The question now is why, given his professed revelations about the mishandling of the Tubbs case, is Gascón not moving forward on a transfer hearing for Paz? Does Gascón understand that the safety value he mentioned when he “adjusted” his policies after the Tubbs’ fiasco, demand that Paz be prosecuted in criminal court to protect the public? What is Gascón waiting for?

When a juvenile offender commits a violent and dangerous crime such as murder or predatory sexual assault and that offender is not apprehended until years later, the juvenile system provides a maximum of two years-time under probation supervision. Indeed, because Los Angeles County lacks any custodial facility for aged-out former juvenile offenders, Paz will most likely be released to a halfway house, or other non-custodial location to serve his meager two-year sentence. Gascón knows this.

Being charged in juvenile versus criminal court also affects sex offender registration requirements. Sexual predators prosecuted in juvenile court do not have to register as sex offenders, leaving the public blind. Sex offender registration provides the public important notice of sex offenders who might live and work in our communities. California Megan’s Law website is a public database that provides information on registered sex offenders. For this reason, it is very important to prosecute the most serious and predatory sex offenders in adult criminal court.

Instead of allowing prosecutors with expertise and experience in juvenile justice to evaluate the facts of each case, Gascón set up a Juvenile Alternative Charging Evaluation (JACE) Committee made up of people who appear to blindly follow his belief that we should “treat kids like kids” and never prosecute them in criminal court. Paz’ case has been languishing in the JACE Committee and the victims and their families have been waiting for months.

Gascón can move prosecution of Paz to the adult justice system which will provide an appropriate sentence for Paz’s crimes that the juvenile system cannot. Adult court prosecution would protect other children by keeping Paz in custody. It would provide a just sentence for his crimes and justice for his victims. It would also require Paz to register as a sex offender.

If, however, Paz remains in juvenile court, the maximum sentence can be only two years which will likely be served in a non-custodial location. After that Paz will be released. He will not be required to register as a sex offender.

Child victims, those already victimized and the future victims of these predators, pay the price and suffer the risk for Gascón ’s many failures. For all the young children in LA County, we can only hope that this serial child molester is prosecuted in criminal court, so the public is protected, specifically the most vulnerable little ones.


Kathy Cady is a Victims’ Rights Attorney at Dordulian Law Group. She provides pro bono representation to crime victims and assists them with asserting their rights in criminal and juvenile justice cases. She retired after 31 years as a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. She tried over 90 felony jury trials and specialized in family violence, child abuse, and sexual assault cases. Her last assignment was as the Deputy-in-Charge of the Victim Impact Program (VIP) where she supervised deputy district attorneys who vertically prosecute cases involving sexual assault of adults, physical and sexual assault of children, elder abuse, family violence, stalking cases and hate crimes in the Los Angeles County District Attorney Pasadena Branch Office. She was previously the Special Assistant to the Director for the Bureau of Victim Services which safeguards victims’ rights and assists victims of violent crime. She has lectured extensively on child physical and sexual abuse, the criminal justice system, victims’ rights and services, restitution and victims with disabilities. She has authored articles on domestic violence, child abuse and victims’ rights. Ms. Cady has drafted legislation and testified in Sacramento regarding bills relating to victims’ rights and child abuse. She is a Board Member on the National Crime Victim Law Institute, the Children’s Advocacy Center for Child Abuse Assessment and Treatment, Justice for Homicide Victims and Justice for Murdered Children and previously served on the California Children’s Justice Act Task Force.

About the ADDA

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys working for the County of Los Angeles.

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