One of the most bizarre near-murder incidents in memory has ended with no jail time for the mentally impaired assailant, and none for her accomplice, who has shown no remorse, and who broke several laws. I have followed the so-called "Bloodfeasting in Berkeley" incident for the last two years, during which the justice system has failed to inform the public of important details of the incident and failed to adequately punish truly horrifying and bizarre behavior by a former public employee with responsibility for troubled youths.
The basic facts: a troubled teenager was taken on an excursion by her former counselor. At a public park, the former client attacks an elderly woman from behind, slashing her throat to the bone, and then leaving, driven away by her former counselor.
The counselor sheltered the assailant, and purchased new clothing for her, helping her to disguise her appearance as described to police by witnesses. Only after 15 hours had passed does the counselor call police, and even then she lies about her role and about details of the incident.
The assailant, Marilyn Webster, has been diagnosed with severe mental impairment and is in a mental health facility for the next several years, at a minimum. This may well be a just outcome, but the accomplice has no such excuse.
The other key figure in the case, one Hamaseh Kianfar, 32, of San Rafael, California, had some sort of unspecified relationship with her former client which led her to violate county policy forbidding contact with clients outside a therapeutic setting. There has been no press coverage of the nature of the relationship, but Kianfar is seen photos from her various court appearances wearing dark pantsuits with spread collars, often considered a lesbian fashion statement. If there were any sort of sexual involvement with teen-aged and mentally impaired Webster, it would seem to make this a serious aggravating factor in the case.
Yesterday, Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay in Oakland, California decided that no jail time was warranted for Kianfar, who has been out on bail for the last two years. This despite the strong protest of the Deputy D.A. handling the prosecution. Henry K. Lee of the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
In court Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Connie Campbell excoriated Kianfar, saying she was unremorseful and failed to acknowledge responsibility in the case. The prosecutor denounced as "psychobabble" and "offensive" claims by Kianfar that she was not able "to have boundaries."
"It wasn't boundaries," Campbell told Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay. "It was the choices she made." Said Campbell, "It's consistent arrogance. This denial and arrogance is amazing to me."
Kianfar's attorney, Laurel Headley of Berkeley, said her client was "an exemplary person who made a very, very serious series of mistakes. But it was one time in an otherwise amazing life of 32 years. She has taken responsibility."
The "amazing life" of Kianfar includes authorship of an 83 page book published by the International Association of Sufism, an organization founded and controlled by her parents which is a fixture in the Bay Area New Age scene.
My take is that Kianfar engaged in outrageous behavior before the incident, which would not have happened had she not taken her former charge on an excursion. After the incident she behaved in a manner consistent with a consciousness of her own guilt.
I take no comfort that she will be performing "community service." Her lack of remorse, and her ability to explain away her conduct with "psychobabble" means to me that she remains a danger to the public.
Hat tip: Joseph Crowley