Restraining Order Issued Against Councilman Facing Sex Assault Charges
By Jason Kandel
A judge on Thursday issued a restraining order against a Santa Ana City Councilman who faces sexual battery and other charges.
Carlos Bustamante, 47, was arrested on Monday in connection with sexually assaulting seven subordinates and stealing public funds. Bustamante was freed from custody on $100,000 bail.
His arraignment on Thursday was postponed until July 26. A judge issued protective orders to prevent any contact between Bustamante and the seven alleged victims.
The judge also ordered Bustamante to turn over his passport and guns.
Councilwoman Michelle Martinez is calling for Bustamante to step down.
“As of today, I am asking him to do the right thing,” she told NBC4. “If he really loves his city he will submit his resignation.”
Defense attorney Jim Riddet asked for a gag order in the case, but the judge denied that request.
Riddet was outraged that the district attorney’s office videotaped the councilman’s arrest outside city hall instead of allowing him to turn himself in, which his attorney had offered to arrange.
He was also upset that Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas held a press conference detailing allegations that Bustamante groped and stalked women.
“Mr. Bustamante has the right to a fair trial and that is seriously jeopardized by a prosecutor’s office that provides such lurid details about what at this point is nothing more than unproven allegations,” Riddet said on his way out of court.
Bustamante was charged with six felony counts of false imprisonment, three felony counts of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, one felony count each of stalking and attempted sexual battery by restraint, and one misdemeanor count each of battery, assault, sexual battery, and attempted sexual battery.
The last charge includes a sentencing enhancement allegation for committing the offenses as a result of sexual compulsion and for the purpose of sexual gratification.
For his fraud-related crimes, Bustamante has been charged with one felony count of grand theft by false pretense.
If convicted on all counts, Bustamante faces a maximum sentence of 26 years and two months in state prison, plus an additional year and nine months in County jail.
He would would have to register as a sex offender for life.
Investigators began the case in March after learning of the allegations.
Prosecutors accuse Bustamante of sexually assaulting at least seven women between 2003 and 2011 while working at the Orange County Public Works department, most recently as an administration manager.
“Certainly in a case like this they need to know nobody will be treated differently, elected or not,” said Rackauckas. “You’re going to be treated the same way.”
Bustamante resigned from the public works post in October.
In a statement, he addressed anonymous letters detailing alleged sexual misconduct with employees that prompted a weeks-long internal investigation.
"The allegations in the anonymous letters were unsubstantiated because they are not true," Bustamante said in a statement at the time. "Therefore I have decided to resign my position with the county and pursue a career in the private sector."
(To read original article, visit this NBC Los Angeles link)