July 19, 2012
Northridge mother pleads guilty in syrup swastika vandalism
A Northridge mother pleaded no contest Wednesday to a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for helping her teenage daughter and two friends deface homes with maple syrup swastikas, human feces and toilet paper, according to the L.A. city attorney’s office.
Catharine Whelpley was ordered to complete 80 hours of community service at Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ SOVA program and attend one year of parenting classes.
If Whelpley completes both within one year, her case will be reduced to an infraction.
“It is important that persons responsible for such conduct, including parents, have taken responsibility for their improper actions,” City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said. “Hopefully, these enforcement actions will deter others from engaging in such bad conduct.”
Whelpley had faced multiple criminal counts, including 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 stem from an April 3 incident in which Whelpley drove her 14-year-old daughter and her daughter’s two friends – ages 14 and 13 – to two homes in the San Fernando Valley that were defaced, prosecutors said.
At the first home, the residence of a former middle school friend, the teens allegedly defaced the property with toilet paper and maple syrup and smeared feces on the homeowner’s vehicle.
Whelpley then drove the juveniles to a store to purchase additional toilet paper before arriving at the second home, according to the city attorney’s office. Whelpley’s daughter allegedly wrote the word “Jew” and drew three swastikas on the front walkway of the home, which belongs to the son of a Holocaust survivor.
During today’s proceedings, the homeowner was allowed to read a statement that delved into his family’s experience with the Holocaust, Deputy City Attorney Ayelet Feiman said.
“I do believe it opened the defendant’s eyes to what her daughter actually did to his family,” she said.
Whelpley has attended a Museum of Tolerance program with her teenage daughter and wrote a letter of apology to the victims. In addition to the parenting classes and volunteering for SOVA, Whelpley has been ordered to pay a $200 fine and approximately $600 in additional penalties.
The three teenage 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 for the defacing, which they admitted to doing, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.