The lawyer for a former Santa Ana city councilman charged with multiple counts of sexual assault is asking a judge to remove the District Attorney from the case
Carlos Bustamante was a rising local Republican star, but that all came crashing down last summer, when he was arrested on a litany of assault charges.
When he announced the charges last July, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas vividly described the allegations that Bustamante preyed on female subordinates when he was an administrator in the county’s Public Works Department.
“He rubbed his face against theirs. He grabbed their breasts. He touched their bare thighs, grabbed their buttocks, and exposed himself,” Rackauckas said at a new conference.
Bustamante’s lawyer James Riddet argues the descriptions used by the district attorney are inflammatory and should bar his office from trying the case.
“The prejudice that jurors might have was extremely exacerbated by the horrible press statements that Mr. Rackauckas made immediately following the charges,” said Riddet in a telephone interview.
DA's office refutes conflict of interest claim
Reddit also accuses the District Attorney’s office of “over-filing” charges and of a conflict of interest.
He says a member of Rackauckas's staff who served on the Santa Ana city council with Bustamante is a longtime enemy of his client.
Susan Kang Schroeder, the District Attorney's chief-of-staff, says that ex-councilwoman, Claudia Alvarez, had no sway in the charges.
“The filing decisions were made by the deputy DAs who were working on the case,” said Schroeder. “They were completely independent of anyone connected to the Santa Ana city council.”
Schroeder says it’s not unusual for political figures to want the District Attorney removed from their case.
She also says nothing Rackauckas said in this case was unusual, and her office took great care to redact many details.
“The District Attorney’s statements were actually extremely measured in light of the conduct that’s alleged,” said Schroeder.
If a judge disagrees and takes the case away from Rackauckas, the prosecutors with the state Attorney General will handle the Bustamante case.