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Woman Resentenced to Probation

July 14, 2000

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A woman who claims a judge sentenced her to prison to keep her from having an abortion was resentenced Friday to probation.

A new judge told Yuriko Kawaguchi she was getting a break, considering that she got caught buying more than $16,000 worth of computer equipment with fake credit cards. Two associates who had planned to sell the goods are serving six-year terms.

Kawaguchi, 23, gave birth to a daughter, Katherine, now 17 months old, while appealing her original six-month sentence. She was released on bond too late to get a legal abortion, she said.

With tears in her eyes, Kawaguchi, a Japanese citizen living in California, told reporters after the sentencing that while she loves her daughter, she does not regret her efforts to get an abortion or to hold the trial judge responsible.

As her daughter grows up, Kawaguchi said she hopes her daughter ``will in some way forgive me. I hope that by living a life and giving her a good life, it will make her realize that, even though I was not ready for her, I do love her.″

A state appeals court in April ordered that Kawaguchi be resentenced to something other than prison time, saying Cuyahoga County Judge Patricia Cleary failed to explain why she ordered a prison term for a felony that usually results in probation.

Kawaguchi got caught in the forgery in May 1998 and pleaded guilty. She was awaiting sentencing when she learned she was pregnant.

During sentencing, Cleary questioned Kawaguchi at length about her pregnancy, in its fifth month at the time. ``I’m saying she is not having a second-term abortion,″ the judge said at one point.

Cleary has since said the sentence was based on the severity of the crime. Her secretary said the judge was not available Friday to comment.

Kawaguchi will be able to serve out her probation in California, where she lives with her parents and daughter and attends the College of San Mateo. Linda Rocker, Kawaguchi’s attorney, said the new sentence was appropriate.

Kawaguchi has sued Cleary, alleging civil rights violations.

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