By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
As the seamy pasts of Hollywood players continue to be laid bare, ending careers and opening the doors to prosecution, crime experts say they might take comfort from the fates of lower-profile offenders such as Village predator Babak Rahimzadeh, who continue to receive minimum sentencing for wrongdoings.
A transient man with a scrolling rap sheet of sex crime convictions in Los Angeles and Canada, Rahimzadeh was arrested for groping a Palisadian woman and an underage student of the Fancy Feet Dance Studio in August 2017.
On Nov. 20, the 54-year-old man described by victims as “highly disturbed,” was found guilty of two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, one count of annoying or molesting a minor, one count of resisting arrest, and three charges for failing to register as a sex offender.
He was sentenced to serve 174 days in county jail, with an additional 36 months of court supervision.
Astrid Heger, executive director of the Violence Intervention Program at the LA County-USC Medical Center, described this as another symptom of an “extremely flawed” legal system.
“The courts are overloaded,” Heger told the Palisadian-Post.
“What that means is that attorneys and judges are going to do what’s easiest—usually that means cutting some type of deal, even if it happens to be with a chronic sexual predator.”
The conviction comes less than a year since Rahimzadeh was found guilty of sexually assaulting a UCLA staff member,
only serving 37 days of his 90-day sentence, before quickly breaking the terms of his probation by returning to the Westwood campus a mere two months later.
But, despite the violation, Rahimzadeh was released back into the public after only one day in custody, where he then migrated west to Pacific Palisades and spent several weeks harassing women and children in the Village Green.
Rahimzadeh’s brief stint under lock and key isn’t at all uncommon: According to research conducted by the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, 80 percent of those sentenced to prison in the United States are released early to serve out the remainder of their sentence under parole supervision.
Heger estimated that Rahimzadeh will spend only about 87 days in jail before he is released.
The problem, Heger suggested, lies perhaps not with a lack of beds or good behavior releases, but more in the way the courts prosecute sex crimes in the first place.
When charged at the misdemeanor level, sexual battery and child molestation only hold a maximum sentencing of a $2,000 fine and up to one year in jail, comparable to the max sentences for petty theft or reckless driving.
Attorney and UCLA Civil Rights & Police Accountability lecturer Lisa Holder told the Post that mitigating factors, such as when a victim is too afraid to testify, will often lead to minimum plea arrangements as well.
There was a similar case in The Huntington, where handyman Gabriel Aguilar was sentenced to 36 months of probation after an LA County jury convicted him in July of one count of annoying or molesting a child under 18, according to court records.
Now a registered sex offender, Aguilar avoided jail time by pleading “no contest” and continues to work for several Palisadian employers, having been spotted hanging Christmas lights for a family as recent as Nov. 3
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