Los Angeles Times

To bring a boy's murderers to justice, a prosecutor wrestled with his own childhood abuse

LOS ANGELES - Jon Hatami's voice shook and he stared down at the courthouse floor as reporters packed around him. Minutes before, the prosecutor had won a conviction in the killing of Gabriel Fernandez, one of the most infamous and chilling child abuse cases in California history.

When paramedics arrived at Gabriel's Palmdale home in the spring of 2013, the 8-year-old had shattered ribs, a cracked skull and cigarette burns dotting his unconscious body, signs of the torture inflicted by his mother and her boyfriend.

After Hatami was assigned the case, he long guarded the gruesome details inside his mind, unable to speak publicly about the prosecution that had both infused him with deep purpose, but also strained his marriage and eroded his trust in law enforcement. In the fall of 2017, moments after jurors convicted the boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, of murdering Gabriel, Hatami thought it was finally safe to unburden his heart.

During that emotional news conference, he stunned the crowd.

"Sorry," he said in a hushed voice, swallowing tears. "I was a victim of child abuse."

"At what age?" a reporter shouted.

"Four, five," Hatami answered, closing his eyes.

Reflecting on that episode now, Hatami described his public revelation as spontaneous - a split-second decision to highlight his own past. The 49-year-old prosecutor said that as a child, he was physically and verbally abused by his father and kidnapped and shuttled across the country by his mother, leading to years of emotional instability.

And he believes that his experiences and years of self-reflection make him uniquely equipped to prosecute child abuse cases.

Vous lisez un aperçu, inscrivez-vous pour en lire plus.

Plus de Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times3 min de lecture
Shohei Ohtani Provides Boost In Angels Win Over Astros
It began with a stare and ended with a slide. What was supposed to be Shohei Ohtani’s first day off of the season instead gave way to his latest dramatic moment, the two-way star getting hit by a pitch and later scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth
Los Angeles Times4 min de lectureCrime & Violence
Harvey Weinstein Appeals New York Sexual Assault Conviction
Harvey Weinstein formally appealed his rape conviction Monday, arguing the combination of a biased juror and a New York City judge’s decision to allow prosecutors to use evidence that wasn’t connected to the crimes for which the mogul was standing tr
Los Angeles Times4 min de lectureCrime & Violence
Column: How Prosecutors Are Scoring At Chauvin Trial
The general consensus that the prosecution in the Derek Chauvin trial has had a very successful first week and a half is being countered by cautionary reminders of how difficult it is to convict a police officer of excessive force. It is in fact noto