Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich announced on July 18 that Catharine Whelpley, a resident of the San Fernando Valley, entered a plea of guilty to one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for driving her 14-year-old daughter and two friends to two addresses in Northridge, California, where the girls committed vandalism that included scrawling a swastika and the word "Jew" on a front walkway and smearing feces on a porch, reported the Los Angeles Daily News.
A neighbor’s' surveillance video recorded the actions of the girls and led police to Whelpley, according to reports. Following the conviction, the 43-year-old woman was ordered to complete one year of parenting classes and 80 hours of community service at Jewish Family Services SOVA program, in addition to other conditions imposed, for aiding the teenagers in committing acts of vandalism.
If Whelpley successfully completes the parenting classes and the community service within the year, the charge will be reduced to an infraction, the City Attorney told reporters. “It is important that persons responsible for such conduct, including parents, have taken responsibility for their improper actions,” said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. “Hopefully, these enforcement actions will deter others from engaging in such bad conduct.”
Deputy City Attorney Ayelet Feiman of the Neighborhood Prosecutor’s Program prosecuted the case. JewishJournal.com set forth the details of the incident when it occurred and stated that Whelpley had been charged on June 11 with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of vandalism, two counts of trespassing and two counts of tampering with a vehicle.
The charges were related to the 43-year-old mother helping her teenage daughter and two friends deface homes with maple-syrup swastikas, human feces and toilet paper on April 3, 2012, the article said. Whelpley was accused at that time of driving her 14-year-old daughter and her daughter’s two friends — 14 and 13 — to two homes in Northridge in the San Fernando Valley. The girls admitted to the April 3 defacing, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
At the first home, the residence of a former friend from their middle school, the teens defaced the property with toilet paper and maple syrup and smeared feces on the homeowner’s vehicle, according to a statement from the office of L.A. City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich. After vandalizing the first property, Whelpley took the teens to buy additional toilet paper.
The mother then drove to the second victim's home, where the girls again threw toilet tissue over the property, smeared human feces on the porch and poured maple syrup on the homeowner's car, reported the Northridge Patch. The second home belongs to the son of a Holocaust survivor. The teens admitted to using maple syrup to draw three swastikas and to writing the word “Jew” on the front walkway.
The three girls did not face criminal charges because their actions did not cause permanent damage to the properties. However, the teens faced disciplinary action at their school, JewishJournal.com reported. Whelpley has reportedly attended the Museum of Tolerance program with her daughter and wrote letters of apology to the victims.
City Attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan told the Daily News that Whelpley could have been prosecuted and faced six months in prison for each count against her. He said the plea bargain and the lighter sentence were accepted after weighing all the facts of the case, including that Whelpley has no history of similar offenses. "It's about getting the person to accept responsibility and change their behavior," Mateljan said. "This will be a meaningful sentence." Do you agree?