Ex-Wife Fights Order to Pay Alimony to Her Attacker

Crystal Harris must also pay ex-hubby's $47K legal costs in sex assault conviction

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 22, 2012 12:33 AM CDT | Updated Mar 22, 2012 2:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A California woman is turning to the state legislature for help after she was ordered to pay alimony to the ex-husband convicted of sexually assaulting her. Crystal Harris, 39, told the judicial committee of the State Assembly yesterday that the 2010 court judgment "amounted to making a rape victim write a check to her own rapist every month." Assembly member Toni Atkins has introduced a bill that would keep any victim of a violent sex crime from having to pay alimony to the abusive former spouse. "Most logical people hear this and think, 'You've got to be kidding,' " Atkins tells ABC News. "It makes a mockery of the intent of laws that govern a fair division of assets."

Shawn Harris was sentenced to six years for sexually assaulting Crystal while the two were married, and will be released from a state prison in 2014. He was financially supported by his wife, who works as a financial analyst, beginning in 2002. She was ordered to set aside $1,000 a month in alimony—reduced because of his crime from the $3,000 a month she would normally have to pay—to be turned over to him when Harris is released. She was also ordered to cover her ex-husband's $47,000 legal fees. In the only current crime exception to strict California alimony laws, a spouse does not have to pay alimony to a partner convicted of attempted murder of the spouse.

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