Lawyer for Santa Ana City councilman wants sexual assault charges dismissed

Mark Rightmire/OC Register/Pool

James Riddet, left, attorney for Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante, right, spoke in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Thursday morning, during Bustamante's arraignment on sexual assault charges involving seven women. The arraignment was continued until July 26.

The attorney for a Santa Ana City Councilman accused of sexual assault charges claims Orange County prosecutors have made inflammatory comments about his client.

As a result, defense attorney James Riddet filed a motion to have the charges dismissed against Carlos Bustamante.

Bustamante, a Santa Ana City Councilman, is accused of sexually assaulting seven women he worked with while he was an executive with the Orange County Public Works Department between 2003 and 2011.

Riddet said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has released too much information about the case to news media and that.

Public comments made by prosecutors would make it hard for Bustamante to get a fair trial, Riddet said, citing inflammatory comments he said Rackauckas made about Bustamante at a news conference, in a news release and during a radio interview.

He said the DA videotaped Bustamante’s arrest and provided copies to the news media, including KPCC.

Riddet’s request for a gag order on the case was denied by a judge July 13.

Bustamante is scheduled to be arraigned on July 26 in a Santa Ana Superior courtroom, when Riddet’s motion to dismiss the charges will likely be considered.

Susan Kang Schroeder with the Orange County District Attorney’s office said prosecutors plan to file a formal response to Riddet’s motion. Due to the nature of the alleged charges against Bustamante, the District Attorney is allowed a certain latitude in describing the case.

“The defendant is asserting his power and privilege to be treated differently than similarly charged defendants where charges involve graphic and lurid details,” Kang Schoreder said.

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