Woolsey Sorry for Letter on Rapist’s Behalf

Posted February 10, 2004 at 6:14pm

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) has apologized for intervening in the sentencing of a convicted rapist who once worked on her campaign and is the son of one of her staffers.

In a Dec. 2 letter to Marin County court officials on official House of Representatives stationery, Woolsey described 20-year-old Stewart Pearson as a “young man from a supportive family” with a “promising life ahead of him” and asked the judge to “consider these factors when deciding a suitable sentence.”

But Woolsey offered a humble apology for her actions over the weekend after the Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal broke the story of her intervention. She expressed particular concern for Pearson’s 17-year-old victim.

“Mr. Pearson’s mother is a faithful employee, who I wanted to help,” Woolsey explained in her letter of apology to the Independent Journal. “But I should not have intervened.”

Pearson, who had previously volunteered on Woolsey’s campaign, pleaded guilty last fall to a rape in which he subdued his teenage victim with a rag soaked in household chemicals. His mother works in Woolsey’s district office in San Rafael.

“Given my outspoken support for both women’s rights and victims’ rights, my constituents and my community are right to be shocked by my action,” Woolsey wrote. “I apologize to them. But most of all, I want to say I’m sorry to the young woman and her family. I apologize for making a horrible situation worse, and I am sorry that they have been forced to relive this heinous crime by reading about it in the newspaper, again.”

The disclosure of Woolsey’s intervention caused an uproar in her California district.

Marin County Deputy District Attorney Alan Charmatz, the lead prosecutor in the Pearson case, told the Independent Journal that the crime was “as bad as it gets” and said he found it “hard to imagine” that Woolsey would “want to write a letter” for someone who had committed such a brutal crime.

Pearson was given the maximum sentence of eight years for his felony crime under a plea agreement whereby other charges of sodomy and assault were dropped, according to the Independent Journal.