Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante was arrested and taken into custody Monday on multiple felony charges, including assault, sexual battery and false imprisonment.

Allegations of sexual misconduct have hung over the head of the once rising Latino star in the local Republican Party since last fall, when he resigned from his six-figure job as a manager in the Orange County Public Works Department after a county probe into the allegations was concluded.

Bustamante has consistently maintained his innocence.

Bustamante was charged Monday with a total of 12 felonies and four misdemeanors, according to a press release from the Orange County district attorney’s office:

The charges include:

  • Six felony counts of false imprisonment, three of assault with intent to commit a sexual offense and one count each of stalking, attempted sexual battery by restraint and grand theft by false pretense.
  • 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.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will hold a news conference Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

In September, the Orange County Register reported on a string of anonymous letters sent to county officials alleging that Bustamante had traded promotions for sex with his subordinates. One letter alleged specific details about four “current and former female OC Public Works employees” and warned supervisors that department directors were aware of the situation and turning a blind eye.

In March, County Counsel Nick Chrisos referred to the DA results of a confidential report from the county’s internal auditor about the allegations against Bustamante.

The report included a four-page review of the sexual harassment allegations against Bustamante and official reactions. It touched off a tense internal debate over who knew what, when they knew it and what they did about it.

Several sources say the audit concluded that the county’s own investigations revealed problems about how the county bureaucracy reacted to allegations from employees that Bustamante, who is married and the father of three children, was aggressively confronting female workers. The allegations triggered action only after workers sent anonymous letters to several news outlets.

Reached for comment, County Supervisor Shawn Nelson said he was “angry” over the situation, although he had not read the official complaint against Bustamante.

Nelson, however, was privy to the county’s internal investigation and said it didn’t paint a pretty picture of life within OC Public Works with Bustamante as a top official.

“Nobody who works here deserves to deal with that kind of circumstance,” Nelson said.

Supervisors were right to refer the matter to the DA, Nelson said.

“We got him [Rackauckas] involved so we could get to the bottom of this,” he said.

“We’re trying to do the right and responsible thing. And we’re not done.”


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