After urging from one of Long Beach’s top law enforcement officials, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office says it will reexamine its decision to forgo felony charges in a high-profile criminal case where a man was caught on video pulling up a woman’s skirt on a Downtown sidewalk.
In an email sent Monday, Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert told the head deputy at the DA’s Long Beach office that the suspect’s actions could be charged as felonies.
“If you look at the facts closely I think you will agree this could be an attempted rape, or assault with attempt to commit rape,” Haubert wrote in the email.
The suspect in this case, 30-year-old Miguel Avila, is accused of attacking the woman as she walked down Linden Avenue in Long Beach’s East Village on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 20.
He faces one count each of misdemeanor sexual battery and vandalism after authorities allege he followed the woman, undid his pants and pulled the woman’s dress up before pressing his groin against her backside.
Haubert’s office, which handles misdemeanor prosecutions in Long Beach, got the case after the DA’s office said there was not enough evidence to support a felony charge because they would be “unable to prove restraint … nor specific intent.”
In his email, Haubert disagreed with this, urging the DA’s office to review a package of evidence that included multiple surveillance videos, body cam footage, witness interviews and Avila’s criminal history.
In an email to the Long Beach Post, the DA’s office said it carefully considered the case previously, but, “based on additional information, the head deputy of our Sex Crimes Division will review the evidence and interview a witness that was located AFTER our initial decision was made to determine whether any felony charges are provable.”
Filing felony charges against Avila could impose heavier penalties, according to the City Prosecutor’s office, “but it could also result in greater rehabilitation resources” that are not available to misdemeanor defendants.
“At a minimum, bringing sexual assault charges at the felony level will more likely ensure the defendant has access to appropriate treatment while exposing the defendant to additional jail or prison time, in an effort to better protect the public,” Haubert’s office said in a statement Tuesday.
The woman shown being attacked in the videos has also called for felony charges. In an interview with Inside Edition, she described being “outraged” that Avila had only been charged with misdemeanor sexual battery.
The woman said in the interview that she believes the assault was “1000% an attempted rape,” and has since started carrying a Taser for protection.
Avila, who was arrested hours after the attack, remains in custody in lieu of $75,000.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a response from the DA’s office.