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3 Teens Charged as Adults in Gang Rape

Crime: The trio could face life in prison for allegedly drugging and assaulting a 16-year-old girl in Newport Beach.

July 13, 2002|MAI TRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Prosecutors on Friday charged three teenagers--including the son of a top Orange County sheriff's official--with dozens of counts of rape and sexual assault, concluding that the crime was so heinous that the defendants will be tried as adults.

The teens are accused of drugging and gang-raping a 16-year-old girl during a July 5 party at the Newport Beach home of Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl. They allegedly videotaped the attack, providing the central evidence in the case.

Court records released Friday allege that the teens not only raped the unconscious girl but also assaulted her with "foreign objects," including a pool cue.

Gregory Haidl, 17, who lives with his mother in Alta Loma, San Bernardino County, was visiting his father and had friends over when the attack allegedly occurred, authorities said.

The two other 17-year-olds charged are Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann, also of San Bernardino County.

Authorities have not said whether Donald Haidl--or any adult--was home when the attack allegedly occurred.

The three suspects did not enter pleas Friday. But one of their attorneys said the police version of events is wrong and that the content of the 15-minute videotape is not being accurately described.

"There's a distorted representation by Newport Beach police to the district attorney's office of what the tape contains," said Joseph Cavallo, an attorney representing Haidl.

Spann's attorney, Ann Cunningham, said her client has never been in trouble with the law before and that the allegations are totally out of character for him. "Everyone is shocked," said Cunningham. "He's a shy, respectful young man."

The three defendants did not speak during a court hearing Friday in Newport Beach, but they made angry hand gestures at reporters when their jail van arrived at the courthouse.

Relatives of the teens packed the courtroom, wiping away tears as the defendants entered in handcuffs. They are being held without bail in the juvenile section of the Santa Ana Jail.

While acknowledging that the allegations are serious, defense attorneys argued that the teens should not be tried as adults. Each faces 21 felony counts. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 191 years in prison.

Donald Haidl, the assistant sheriff in charge of the reserve program, and his wife, Cathy, were allowed in the courtroom through a rear door before the courtroom was opened to the public.

Officials allowed this because Haidl has received several death threats since his son's arrest, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Haidl was escorted by two deputies.

An informant, whom police would not identify, turned over the videotape to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department this week. With the help of Newport Beach detectives, authorities identified the victim and the three alleged attackers.

Haidl is one of five assistant sheriffs reporting directly to Sheriff Michael S. Carona. A successful businessman and longtime political supporter of the sheriff, Haidl oversees the department's 250-person reserve program and does not take a salary from the county.

Sheriff's officials said the charges have not changed Haidl's job status with the department.

"In America, if a child commits a crime, the parent is not a criminal," Amormino said. "Haidl is very upset and very concerned, as any parent would be."

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