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Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante arraignment postponed in sex assault case

File photo of Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante.

July 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Arraignment has been delayed for a Santa Ana city councilman charged with sexually assaulting seven women.

Bustamante appeared before a judge Thursday with his attorney by his side. The 47-year-old husband and father was ordered not to contact the seven women he's accused of sexually assaulting. The alleged victims are all employees who reported to Bustamante when he was an executive with Orange County Public Works.

"Intimidation and dissuasion did in fact occur, and there is a likelihood, and great probability, that it will continue if there is not a protective order put in place," said prosecutor Arleta Bryant.

The Santa Ana city councilman was arrested Monday. In a press conference, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas accused Bustamante of being a sexual bully who lured women to his office by pretending it was work related. He then allegedly groped them and exposed himself to them. The allegations go back several years.

Bustamante's attorney asked the judge for a media gag order, insisting the D.A.'s comments and an arrest video hurt Bustamante's right to a fair trial.

"That right is seriously jeopardized by a prosecutor's office that provides lurid details about what, at this point, is nothing more than unproven allegations of what might have occurred," said defense attorney James Riddet.

The D.A. said he feels he did nothing wrong.

"I don't think we crossed any lines," said Rackauckas. "I think we were measured in the statements that we made."

The judge ultimately denied the motion for a gag order.

Bustamante did not enter a plea, but in the past has denied any wrongdoing. He resigned from his county position nine months ago amid the allegations. He maintains his city council seat, but at least one council member would like to see him gone.

"When you're interfering with the city business, I really believe at this time that my colleague should resign," said Santa Ana City Councilmember Michele Martinez. "I was hoping he himself would write a letter of resignation. He hasn't done that."

Bustamante's arraignment was continued to July 26.

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