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[whitespace] The Sentences

For Laurie Flower, love was no defense

IN THE END, for all the talk during the political campaign of DA Ron Ruiz going easy on Flower and the near-persecution of Peter Chang, Flower got the felony conviction, jail time and a lengthy probation--while Chang, the officer of the court who still faces possible disbarment over his actions, got a slap on the wrist.

* On March 10, the attorney general dropped three felony charges and two misdemeanors against Peter Chang, who pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of violating a court order for arranging a meeting between Matt and Flower. He got three years' probation, a $1,000 fine and 300 hours of community service. Ruiz's opponents proclaimed that this proved he had never had a case against Chang. Ruiz's supporters accused the attorney general of being unprepared for trial and forced at the last minute to settle for the reduced charge.

* On March 17, Laurie Flower was sentenced to a year in county jail, to begin May 1, and 10 years' probation for one felony count of continuous child molestation, and one misdemeanor count of witness tampering. She was also sentenced to 16 years in state prison, suspended and ordered to stay away from Matt during the term of her probation--even though Matt will become an adult during that time. She must also register as a sex offender. Compare that with Mary Kay Letourneau, the Seattle teacher who originally got just 80 days in jail. After getting out, she was caught with the young man again and sent back to prison to serve the remainder of a seven-and-a-half year jail sentence. Nine months after returning to prison, she bore her young lover a second child.

* On March 23, the three men who sexually assaulted Laurie Flower's daughter in a Watsonville motel room were sentenced--Ariel Vargas and Pedro Carlos to nine months in jail for statutory rape, the third, Eddie Garcia, to a year in jail for child molestation. They will not have to register as sex offenders.

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From the April 5-12, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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