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Original 'Twilight' Prosecutor Arrested With Prostitute

October 15, 1987|TERRY PRISTIN | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who became embroiled in a controversy with the prosecutor who succeeded him in the "Twilight Zone" trial was arrested by vice officers early Wednesday on suspicion of having oral sex with a prostitute in a parked car.

Gary P. Kesselman, 45, and Bonnie Taylor, 23, were arrested at 12:30 a.m. in the 4000 block of South Paloma Street in South-Central Los Angeles. Both were booked on suspicion of disorderly conduct, authorities said.

In a $7-million federal suit filed last month, Kesselman accused his bosses of trying to pressure him to perjure himself on the witness stand during the "Twilight Zone" trial.

Police spokesman Lt. Dan Cooke said Kesselman was booked at Newton Division and released, while Taylor, whom he described as a "known prostitute," was taken to Sybil Brand Institute.

A spokesman for the city attorney's office said late Wednesday that no decision had been made yet on whether misdemeanor charges would be filed.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Curt Livesay said an internal investigation has begun to see if disciplinary charges should be filed against Kesselman, who joined the office in 1973.

"Our options, theoretically, range from the most harsh sanction of discharge to no action," said Livesay. "It depends on what the investigation reveals."

Kesselman, who is married, was not at work Wednesday. His attorney, Harold Greenberg, said he would have no comment until he had seen the police report.

In November, 1984, Kesselman made news after he was warned about the potential for prostitution at a downtown dance hall of which he was co-owner. The warning was made by an investigator for the Los Angeles Police Commission after a raid at the Club El Gaucho at 425 West 8th St. Kesselman sold his interest in the dance hall "six or seven months ago," his attorney said.

During the "Twilight Zone" trial, Kesselman, the original prosecutor, told the jury that the prosecutor who replaced him, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lea D'Agostino, had tried to pressure him into supporting the testimony of a key witness.

Kesselman testified that he told D'Agostino: " . . . Lea, if you are even implying that I would commit perjury for this case, you've got the wrong guy."

D'Agostino, who eventually lost the case against film director John Landis and four co-defendants in the 1982 deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, has denied that she tried to exert undue pressure.

After the acquittals last May, Kesselman publicly disclosed that he had urged Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner two years ago to avoid a trial and accept a guilty plea from the key defendants to felony conspiracy to violate the child labor laws. But Reiner and Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Gilbert I. Garcetti disputed Kesselman's account and said the defense had made only a tentative feeler to plea bargain, not a formal offer. Reiner said that such a plea would have been unacceptable.

In a $10-million claim against the county, D'Agostino, Garcetti and Richard W. Hecht, director of central operations for the district attorney's office, Kesselman alleged that when efforts to get him to lie on the witness stand failed, a campaign to "harass, intimidate and discredit" him was instituted.

After the claim against the county was denied, Kesselman made similar allegations in the federal lawsuit.

The penal statute under which Kesselman was booked prohibits "lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view."

"Those arrests are quite common, especially when you have prostitutes working the street who are observed by vice officers," said Detective Joe Nolan of the LAPD's Administrative Vice Division.

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