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14Aug/12Off

Bustamante Probe Was Botched

If you’re going to do a comprehensive investigation based on several claims of sexual harassment, you better get it right the first time.

Orange County officials botched the sexual harassment investigation of former executive Carlos Bustamante so badly that the probe itself violated workplace policy and put the county at risk of being sued, an internal audit shows.

English: Santa Ana, 1887.

English: Santa Ana, 1887. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bustamante, a former executive in the county’s public works department who was arrested in July, is accused of sexual assault, false imprisonment and battery of seven female county employees over eight years.

The internal audit, prepared in February, notes that there were multiple complaints lodged against Bustamante and outlines concerns about how the inquiries were handled before the case made its way to the district attorney — a full year after the county was alerted to potential problems.

Complaints about Bustamante’s behavior surfaced as early as March 2011, according to the internal report, which was first reported by the online publication Voice of OC.

The first complaint, the audit notes, was never referred to the county’s central human resources department, a violation of county policy.

Instead, the complaint was investigated by Patricia Daniells, one of Bustamante’s subordinates.

Daniells, the audit notes, did not keep specific records of the interviews and instead produced a one-page “unaddressed, undated, unsigned and non-letterhead” report.

Further, two employees who Daniells said she interviewed later denied they’d ever talked with her.  Daniells’ inquiry was described in the audit as being “superficial.”

In August, another complaint about Bustamante surfaced and an investigation was farmed out to a law firm, which found “ample and credible witnesses” to validate the allegations against Bustamante, the audit notes.

The month-long investigation resulted in a written report that led to Bustamante’s resignation in October.

Potential witnesses approached by the law firm’s investigators “expressed fear of retaliation, especially from Human Resources, for testifying about Mr. Bustamante’s misconduct.”

“These fears were pervasive and two potential witnesses refused to interview in the presence of HR employees,” the audit notes.

The audit also references a lack of coordination between county counsel, the internal audit department and human resources. County counsel, for instance, was never informed that an outside law firm had been asked to investigate the complaints and was unaware that the county later met with Bustamante.

Since Bustamante’s arrest, his supervisor, Jess Carbajal, has been terminated and county Chief Executive Tom Mauk has resigned. Carl Crown, who was the human resources director during the time of the complaints, has retired.

Bustamante, who is free on bail, remains on the Santa Ana City Council.

If a loved one was the victim of negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

3Jul/12Off

Santa Ana City Councilman Busted

Voters in Santa Ana need to be more selective in their voting habits and pay close attention to members of their city council.

A former Orange County official and current Santa Ana City Councilman lured women into his office during business hours, cornered them and proceeded to hug, kiss and grope them, according to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

English: This is a locator map showing Orange ...

English: This is a locator map showing Orange County in California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carlos Bustamante, who has been charged with sexually assaulting seven women and committing grand theft of public funds, allegedly targeted victims whom he worked with at the Orange County Public Works Department.

Rackauckas said Bustamante, who was a former county executive, would frequently comment on the victims’ physical appearance and made sexual comments about them, sometimes around other people.

He would call or email women and ask them to come into his office for work-related matters but would then close the door and corner them.

“Many of his victims believed that Bustamante’s office was sound-proofed and that if they screamed, nobody would hear them anyway,” Rackauckas said.

In a period of eight years, the victims were assaulted in cubicles, offices, stairwells and vehicles, Rackauckas said.

Bustamante allegedly stalked one of his victims after she refused to continue a sexual relationship with him, according to the district attorney.

In a news conference Tuesday, Rackauckas said the women believed that Bustamante was very “well-connected” and was seen as being friendly with the county’s human resources manager.

One woman even mentioned that Bustamante seemed “untouchable.”

Prosecutors intend to introduce evidence regarding 12 additional alleged victims; they could not charge Bustamante with the crimes because of the statute of limitations, they said.

Bustamante resigned from his county post in October amid allegations of sexual assault.

An anonymous letter triggered a county investigation, and a report was forwarded to the district attorney’s office in March.

Investigators are seeking additional information about the alleged crimes.

“The investigation still has a long ways to go,” Rackauckas said.

Bustamante is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Santa Ana.

If you or a loved one were harmed by a public official, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you determine if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.