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Attorney for Santa Ana councilman wants assault charges dismissed

An attorney for Councilman Carlos Bustamante is asking an Orange County Superior Court judge to dismiss sexual assault and battery charges, saying the D.A. made 'inflammatory' statements to the media.

July 20, 2012|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
  • Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante, left, makes his first court appearance Thursday with his attorney, James Riddet. Bustamante is accused of sexually assaulting women while he worked as an Orange County administrator.
Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante, left, makes his first court… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

An attorney for Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante is asking an Orange County Superior Court judge to dismiss sexual assault and battery charges against his client, saying the district attorney made "inflammatory" statements to the media.

Bustamante, who resigned his post in the county's public works department following an internal investigation into his workplace behavior, is charged with sexually assaulting women in his county office over an eight-year period.

James Riddet, Bustamante's attorney, alleges that the conduct of the district attorney's office is "so egregious" that the only remedy is to dismiss the case because it denies Bustamante a fair trial.

He cited several examples, including a July 3 news conference, newspaper coverage and a radio interview given by Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.

In his motion, the attorney included statements that allege that Bustamante targeted women of similar ethnic backgrounds, hugged victims close enough for them to feel that he was aroused and cornered victims in his office.

Susan Kang Schroeder, Rackauckas' chief of staff, said the comments were extremely measured in light of the available details.

"He could have been way more graphic and detailed considering the amount of information that was available," she said.

The motion will be considered July 26, the same day as Bustamante's arraignment.

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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