Police Review Reported Rape at Mayor’s Home in Santa Ana

The Santa Ana Police Department received a report Tuesday alleging that a minor boy raped a minor girl at a party last month hosted by the teenage son of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido.

Police spokesman Anthony Bertagna said Thursday that the department's investigation into the alleged incident at the mayor's home is still open and will be referred to the Orange County district attorney's office.

However, police determined — after investigating for less than 48 hours — that the allegation is "unfounded," Bertagna said.

An incident summary released by police provided the following description of the incident: "Suspect takes victim into the bathroom. Suspect proceeds to sexually assault the victim against her will.”

The incident report lists two California penal codes that were allegedly violated, one covering rape and one covering oral copulation, according to Bertagna.

The incident was alleged to have occurred between 4 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 and was reported to police at 10:27 p.m. Tuesday, according to the crime report. Bertagna said the report was made by a hospital in San Diego County as required by law whenever hospital staff encounter a possible case of rape.

The party was chaperoned by adults, and Pulido was at home, Bertanga said. Pulido hung up on a reporter seeking comment on the alleged incident.

Facebook posts made by Pulido's son, also named Miguel, and others indicate that minors may have been consuming alcohol during the party.

"My house still hasn't recovered," the mayor’s son wrote in a Facebook status update two days after the party.

"Is my poop still on your lawn?" a friend asked in response.

"Is the puke still there?" asked another, adding, "someone left a puke bag in one of the bathrooms."

Bertagna said there is no evidence that Pulido or any other adult supplied alcohol to minors visiting the home, which is located on 1.6 acres in the city's upscale Floral Park neighborhood. But, he said, minors might have sneaked in some of their own alcohol.

John Carr, spokesman with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said if parents knowingly allow minors to consume alcohol at their home, they would be in violation of a state “social host” law passed last year. Violations of the law are punishable by up to a $1,000 fine.

Questions have been raised about how quickly police came to their conclusion that the rape allegation was unfounded. There are also concerns as to whether the department should have referred the case to another police agency in order to avoid any conflict of interest charges.

“It wasn’t an issue for us, because the mayor nor any of his family members were alleged suspects in this particular case,” Bertagna said.

Bertagna said that an investigation likely would have been “based on interviews of witnesses, victims or suspects” as well as “medical evidence.”

Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said each city police department in the county has its own policy regarding the referral of such cases to an outside agency.

“Each department has their own procedures and policies, and it would depend on the circumstances of the case,” Amormino said.

The allegation comes as Pulido heads into the stretch run for his tenth term as mayor.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

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