Tatiana Thibes was recently convicted of burglary, but asked the judge for a lighter sentence due to her horrific childhood. Now I’m the first person to say that grown-ups need to take some personal responsibility and be accountable for their actions, but I think a good case could be made for Tatiana, 33, to spend some time in rehab instead of jail.
Tatiana was habitually beaten, terrorized, and raped by her father, Lindolfo Thibes, throughout her childhood. He took her out of school in sixth grade and kept her a prisoner in their Los Angeles-area home. She bore three of his children, and the truth only came out when he stabbed her in the chest. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2009, but Tatiana has (obviously) had some difficulty moving on.
After being freed from her monster of a father, Tatiana was apparently doing pretty well. She had a fourth baby with her live-in boyfriend, and she made sure they got to school and did their homework. She claims that being forced to talk about the abuse she endured during her father’s trial derailed any normalcy she had achieved.
"Not talking about it was the only way to protect my sanity," she told the Los Angeles Times. "I didn't want to face my worst fears, and that was getting counseling and confronting my abuse."
A year and a half after her father’s arrest, she drove drunk and crashed. Two of her passengers suffered minor injuries, and she was put on probation. Meanwhile, she broke up with her boyfriend and started seeing known gang member Adam Ortiz, who is the father of her fifth and youngest child.
In 2010, Ortiz developed a system for robbing houses that involved Tatiana. She would ring people’s doorbells, and if they weren’t home, Ortiz and two other gang members would break in and burglarize the place.
The men were convicted last year and each sentenced to at least 12 years behind bars. Tatiana was also found guilty and jailed after her five children, ages 2-16, were taken from her. Her attorney, Ron Seabold, believes her sentence would be better served in a rehab facility dedicated to mothers and children.
One problem -- remember that drunk driving arrest? She had one week of probation left when she was arrested for the burglaries ... and state law mandates that “someone who commits a serious crime, such as burglary, while on probation for another felony must be sentenced to prison.”
Ok, there’s the letter of the law and then there’s the spirit of the law. And while I’m not excusing crime of any sort, this is robbery, not murder, and she claims she did it because she was terrified of her gang member boyfriend.
I say give the girl a chance to learn how to be a functioning member of society and a mother to her five children. She wants to get her high school diploma and maybe even become a therapist to help other women that have suffered the same kind of trauma and abuse she endured for years.
This young woman and her children probably have a much better chance of a normal life if they’re able to be together with specific guidance and education on how to be a functional family.
What do you think? Should Tatiana go to jail, or does she deserve a shot at rehab?
Image via M. T. Hawley/Flickr