Victim Ordered to Pay Attacker Spousal Support

By Christina Caron

Nov. 3, 2011

…Crystal Harris of Carlsbad, Calif., had been financially supporting her unemployed, abusive husband Shawn Harris for years. But after he sexually assaulted her in 2008, she took him to court.

The jury heard a damning audiotape of the attack secretly recorded by Crystal Harris, and her husband was convicted of forced oral copulation.

Even so, in 2010, the year their divorce became finalized, he requested spousal support. The judge awarded him $1,000 a month, and also asked Crystal Harris to pay $47,000 of her ex-husband’s legal fees from the divorce proceedings.

“It stunned me and I think it’s shocking,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who is fighting to close a loophole in the law that allows judges to exercise this kind of judicial discretion. “It’s a priority for our office.”…

…Under normal circumstances, Harris would have been required to pay $3,000 a month in spousal support after the divorce, but because of the domestic violence she endured, the judge said he would lower that amount to $1,000…

…She appealed the judge’s ruling, pointing out that her ex-husband will have no expenses while he’s in jail.

The judge agreed, but when Shawn Harris, 40, is released from Donovan State Prison in 2014, he’s entitled to ask for spousal support again. And California law entitles him to have it…

…The physical abuse resulted in several 911 calls during their 12 year marriage…

…According to Harris, her husband sexually assaulted her for the first time nearly a week after a big fight in 2008. Their two boys, who were 2 and 5 years old at the time, were upstairs.

“He comes at me and decided he wants sex and he’s really wanting sex and I’m like, ‘No! We haven’t even talked or made up or anything. I’m not having sex with you.’ He said, ‘This isn’t up for negotiation,” she said…

…In court Shawn Harris admitted to past domestic violence, ABC News affiliate KGTV reported, but his defense attorney said he never raped his wife, arguing that the couple was merely “role playing.”

“It was rough sex but at no time did I force her to do anything against her will,” Shawn Harris said in court. “Just another opportunity to yell and scream to get our adrenaline pumping during sex.”

Crystal Harris says the couple “never” engaged in role playing, and her hidden audio recording of the incident proves otherwise…

…On the day of the assault, she says she went into the bathroom then came back out and pretended to change her underwear. That’s when she hit ‘record.’

It was that tape that ended up convicting Shawn Harris of forced oral copulation…

…Although Shawn Harris was convicted of one crime and sentenced to six years in jail, the other two charges he faced — spousal rape by force and sodomy — resulted in a hung jury.

Although the beginning of the audio recording started with what Harris describes as “extremely violent” oral copulation, she said she wasn’t protesting during the portion where they engaged in sexual intercourse, because she was “thinking about how our children are upstairs.”…

…California family code currently states “the criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award” and it’s that language that gives the judge discretion when making a spousal support ruling.

If a spouse is convicted of attempted murder, however, then a judge cannot award any spousal support to the convicted spouse.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is now leading the fight to change the language in that exception so that it doesn’t say “attempted murder,” and instead says “violent felony.”…

Read more at Yahoo News.