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Santa Ana City Councilman Pleads Not Guilty To Sex Assault Charges

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SANTA ANA (CBS) — Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante pleaded not guilty Thursday to sexually assaulting seven women when he worked in the county’s public works department.

A hearing on a defense motion to have the charges against Bustamante dismissed was rescheduled for Aug. 30 before Orange County Superior Court Gerald Johnston.

In the meantime, defense attorney Jim Riddet also filed various subpoenas on prosecutors seeking information. He filed a motion last week arguing that charges should be dismissed because prosecutors have allegedly violated the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

The defense attorney accused Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas of making “really inflammatory” comments about Bustamante in a news release, as well as during a news conference and in a radio interview.

In his motion, Riddet said the county’s top prosecutor called his client a “wolf,” and also pointed out what he called the “perp walk,” referring to district attorney’s officials videotaping his client’s arrest on his way to a Santa Ana City Council meeting.

The defense attorney also objected to Rackauckas saying prosecutors plan to introduce evidence at trial regarding a dozen other alleged victims, when Bustamante has not been charged with those alleged assaults because of the statute of limitations in some cases.

Riddet argues in his motion that the comments made by prosecutors will make it difficult for his client to get a fair trial and that the charges should be thrown out as a deterrent in future cases.

Last week, Susan Kang Schroeder, the Orange County District Attorney’s chief of staff, defended how the office handled dissemination of information in Bustamante’s case.

Schroeder said the charges against Bustamante are “lurid” by nature and that her office did its best to avoid details while releasing information.

Schroeder also defended the “perp walk,” saying it’s been done many times before and that it yielded more tips from witnesses.

Bustamante is accused of sexually assaulting the alleged victims while he was an executive with the Orange County Public Works Department. The alleged assaults happened between 2003 and last year, according to the prosecution.

Bustamante is charged with six counts of false imprisonment, three counts of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense and one count each of stalking, attempted sexual battery by restraint and grand theft by false pretense. The grand theft charge stems from expense reports he submitted after attending a 2 1/2-week program in Boston.

He also faces one misdemeanor count each of battery, assault, sexual battery and attempted sexual battery. The charges include sentence-enhancing allegations of committing the offenses as a result of sexual compulsion and for the purpose of sexual gratification.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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