Bustamante Sex Assault Case Slated for New Hearing

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Former county executive Carlos Bustamante, who was charged with several sex-related felonies for alleged actions against female county workers, is scheduled to start another pretrial hearing this week over whether his case should go to trial.

It comes after Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino threw out eight of the 13 felony charges against Bustamante following a preliminary hearing in May.

Prosecutors with the District Attorney’s office re-filed most of the charges that Makino dismissed. Bustamante’s new lawyers contend he was “set up” by the DA’s office.

Prosecutors say Bustamante systematically targeted at least seven vulnerable women working for him at the county Public Works Department, stalked them and then sexually terrorized them.

Several of the alleged victims said they were fearful of reporting Bustamante’s actions due to his influential relationships with top county executives and elected officials. Bustamante was a member of the Santa Ana city council and a rising star in the Republican party.

Bustamante’s former defense attorney, James D. Riddet, argued prosecutors failed to demonstrate crimes were committed and that several of the alleged victims admitted Bustamante’s conduct was consensual.

Bustamante “was persistent,..he was persuasive, and they agreed to have intimate relations with him” because of that, said Riddet. Bustamante’s new lawyers are Steven R. Young and Gina L. Kershaw.

The hearing starts Friday at 8:45 a.m. in Department C5 of the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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