Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has charged Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante with multiple felony counts of sexually assaulting seven women who worked for him when he was an administrator at the Orange County Public Works Department. The alleged assaults took place from 2003 to 2011.
Bustamante is charged with six felony counts of false imprisonment, three felony counts of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, one felony count of stalking and attempted sexual battery by restraint, and one misdemeanor count each of battery, assault, sexual battery and attempted sexual battery with a sentencing enhancement allegation for committing the offenses as a result of sexual compulsion and for the purpose of sexual gratification.
For fraud-related crimes, Rackauckas has charged Bustamante with one felony count of grand theft for misusing public funds when he worked for the Orange County Public Works Department.
Rackauckas said Bustamante faces 26 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
The 47-year-old councilman said he is innocent. Bustamante was elected to the Santa Ana City Council in 2004. His current term expires this November.
Bustamante was arrested July 2 in the parking lot outside of the Santa Ana City Council meeting by the Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA) Bureau of Investigation, who investigated the case.
Rackauckas said the alleged sexual assaults of the seven women happened in Bustamante's office at the Orange County Public Works Department on 300 N. Flower St. They also took place in stairwells, parking lots and areas the victims were driven to by Bustamante, according to the D.A.
“He (Bustamante) exposed himself and masturbated in front of the victims,” said Rackauckas. “When they tried to run away, he pinned them against the wall, hugged and squeezed them and several (alleged victims) said they could feel his erect penis.”
The DA said the investigation of Bustamante started in March 2012 and more than 50 witnesses were interviewed.
Rackauckas said there are at least 12 other victims of Bustamante, but he cannot file charges due to the statute of limitations.
"Even though we cannot charge the defendant for these additional victims due to the statute of limitations, we are going to fight for justice on their behalf," Rackauckas said. "We will seek to introduce evidence in court that Bustamante had the propensity to commit the crimes against Jane Does 1 through 7, based on the crimes he also committed against the other 12 victims."
Rackauckas said each alleged victim of Bustamante feared "career suicide" if they spoke up about the alleged sexual assaults. Bustamante targeted subordinates at the Orange County Public Works Department, according to Rackauckas.
"The victims were emotionally-vulnerable and Bustamante verbally badgered and mentally harassed them," he said. "All seven victims have similar ethnic backgrounds, age, and physical characteristics."
The D.A. said no additional specific information regarding the alleged victims would be released in order to protect their identities and the continuing investigation.
The alleged sexual assaults happened over Bustamante's entire employment at the Orange County Public Works Department between 2003-2011, according to Rackauckas. They also allegedly took place during work hours.
Bustamante is free on $100,000 bail. He’s scheduled to be arraigned July 5 at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
This story has been updated.