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Crystabel Funes Is Fighting One of L.A.'s Richest Families for the Right to See Her Daughter 

Thursday, Apr 10 2014
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Jimmy wasn't entirely comfortable in his own family either, she says. He was always the oddball, wearing Tommy Bahama shirts and making goofy faces in family pictures. She saw a sweetness in him, and he showed real tenderness to her daughter.

“Unless you’re a multibillionaire, you don’t fight Ron Tutor.” —Tammy Holguin

He enjoyed going to Vegas to watch fights, and clubs in Simi Valley and Hollywood, where he would throw the Tutor name around. But while he was a partier, he'd never touch a drop of alcohol. He was a reformed alcoholic and cocaine addict. When she met him, Jimmy had been sober for three years. He was up front about it, and even took her to a few meetings.

He was fast approaching middle age, and balding enough that he had shaved his head. But he acted like a 20-year-old kid. He had lost a lot of years to his addiction, and now he was trying to recapture his youth.

click to flip through (6) Jimmy Tutor with daughter Kate, about 10 days before he died.
  • Jimmy Tutor with daughter Kate, about 10 days before he died.
 

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Behind his party boy facade, she saw deep sadness. He loved chasing girls but had never had a long-term relationship. At one point, he showed her his poetry. She was struck by how lonely he must have been.

In a way, it was perfect. He had everything except a family — and that was the one thing she could provide.

They discussed marriage, but he wanted more time to sort things out. In February 2007, he announced he was making his annual monthlong trip to the Philippines, without her. She begged him not to go.

When he got back, she told him she was pregnant.

He wasn't ready. "What are you gonna do?" he asked.

"What do you mean, 'What am I gonna do'?" she responded. She was going to have the baby. They fought and broke up. Around the office, she would overhear him talking on the phone to other women, to make her jealous.

The office gossip was hard to take. Some people whispered that she was trying to trap him, and the baby wasn't even his. When she was six months pregnant, Funes was demoted. She didn't come in for a few days; after that, she was let go. Someone from work came to her apartment to drop off the plant she had kept on her desk.

For the last few months of her pregnancy, she lived on food stamps. She stayed home, depressed. What little income she had came from selling craft items on eBay. She blamed Jimmy. "I wish I never met you," she wrote to him.

When the baby — Kate — was born, she fought back in the only way she could. She listed her ex-husband as the father on the birth certificate.

Looking back on her life years later, Funes acknowledges that she often made stupid choices. Of course it's easier for her to point fingers at powerful forces outside her control, and there's some truth in that. But in a series of interviews, she often says how much she regrets her own behavior, too.

She admits she wasn't mature enough to face the reality and severity of her problems. She always wanted an easy way out. "I behaved like a teenager in hiding my need of help," she said in a handwritten letter to a family law judge. "I did this to not face being told I was wrong and being in trouble."

But avoiding her problems tended to make them worse.

After Kate was born, Jimmy sent a process server to her hospital room to order a paternity test. The results proved Jimmy was the father.

She says he came to her door, crying, and apologized for abandoning her. But the reconciliation was short-lived. Jimmy's parents no longer approved of her. She was erratic and irrational — too much drama. They encouraged him to break it off with her.

The situation quickly devolved into a battle for custody. Jimmy was paying child support, and he wanted joint custody. Funes didn't trust him to take her baby overnight. A recovering addict, he had never held a baby before.

He went to court and got an order allowing him to see Kate three afternoons a week. But Funes was so angry that she often failed to show up or was late to their meetings. So Jimmy went back to court. His lawyers claimed, wrongly, that Funes was a Salvadoran immigrant, and suggested she might flee the country.

When Funes refused to come to court, the judge ordered an Amber Alert and an arrest warrant. Frustrated with her defiance, he also gave Jimmy full custody.

The police found her at her apartment in Canoga Park. They took her to jail. Her older daughter, Kelly, was turned over to Funes' sister and Jimmy got Kate, then 9 months old. Funes had never been in a jail. "It was awful," she says. "It was humiliating."

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