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Rape Victim Must Pay Alimony to Her Attacker

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on December 07, 2011 5:47 AM

California woman Crystal Harris, 39, was sexually assaulted by her husband. The primary breadwinner for her family, the rape victim was then ordered to pay alimony to her now ex-husband.

Her ex, Shawn Harris, is currently serving time in a state prison after being convicted of the assault in 2008.

The ruling has shocked some experts, who believe that this is the first time that a sexual assault victim has been forced to pay their convicted attacker.

Crystal Harris earns about $120,000 per year as a financial adviser for a brokerage firm. Her husband made around $400 a month. San Diego Superior Court Judge Gregory Pollack, the man who ordered Crystal Harris to pay alimony to her ex, cited California family law in coming to his decision.

Judge Pollack pointed out that under the law, alimony is not justified when one spouse attempts to murder another, reports the New York Post. There are no other exceptions explicitly spelled out under the law. That's why Judge Pollack utilized his discretion in awarding Shawn Harris alimony payments -- and why a woman could end up paying support to her attacker.

This doesn't mean that Judge Pollack needed to hand down the alimony judgment in favor of Crystal Harris' ex-husband. Judge Pollack probably could have used his judicial discretion to halt spousal support given the circumstances.

Crystal Harris won't need to start sending off alimony checks just yet. Under the ruling, Shawn Harris will only be entitled to alimony after his release from jail in 2014.

To add insult to injury, Crystal Harris has also been ordered to pay $47,000 in legal fees to cover her ex-husband's expenses. Still, instead of paying $3,000 in spousal support per month under normal circumstances, the rape victim's alimony payments will be $1,000.

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