Thursday, August 19, 2010

'LM' mental health assessment
ordered by Yuba County judge

by Tom Nadeau

A new felony case filed in Yuba County Superior Court is disturbing in several ways.

The defendant in People v. “L.M.”, case #F-10-358 -- (full name withheld due to of the nature of the still-pending case*) – is charged with two counts of Penal Code section 288(a), lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 14 sometime between January, 2010 and May 2010.

Judge Debra L. Givens Wednesday ordered further proceedings be delayed pending the defendant’s assessment by two mental health experts.

The defendant was arrested and charged in early August, with the case filed in Superior Court Aug. 5.

A relatively rare case ...

In the defendants’ initial appearance before Judge Julia Scrogin, the judge read a portion of the police report and district attorney documents aloud in court. The portion read indicated that the age of the alleged victim – “E.C.” – might have been less than five years old.

Furthermore, the indicting document states that the victim was born in July 2005. The victim's sex was not disclosed.

PC Section 288(a) specifically reads that the act would have been committed “with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of the said defendant or said child.”

The alleged acts involved the defendant’s breasts and “orally copulating the defendant.”

What makes this sad situation particularly disturbing and of legal and news interest is that the defendant is a woman -- a relatively rare occurrence.
The American Humane Association which was responsible for gathering these data from 1973 through 1987, found that approximately 20 percent of substantiated cases of child sexual abuse during that time period had been perpetrated by females. (Information on perpetrator gender is not available for 1988-1992; data eventually will be available for 1993 and subsequent years.) However, not all states require the gender of perpetrators to be included in their reports. Thus, says John Fluke, Director of Research and Program Analysis for the American Humane Association, there are inherent difficulties in getting good information, given the fact that we're working with 50 different systems of information development."
Moreover, judging from her dazed demeanor in her first appearance in court, "L.M." seemed to be “out of it.”

Givens ordered the mental health report submitted by Sept. 13 and the defendant to appear in Superior Court Department #5 at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 16.

* Notable Trials follows the same guidelines British newspapers use in cases of this sort. NT withholds the defendant’s name unless and until the case is resolved. That way, if found innocent, the defendant is spared any unfounded public opprobrium. -- TN


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