(CNS) District Attorney Tony Rackauckas today described Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante as a sexual bully, who cornered women in his office and groped them, apparently without fear of being caught.
"Carlos was very well-connected,'' Rackauckas said, quoting one of Bustamante's alleged victims, "not just executive management ... but at the board level.''
Another alleged victim said: "He was really close to our (human resources) manager. Everyone's under Carlos, pretty much, everyone. He's like mister, like a god kind of thing.'' Another said she was "afraid'' of him, because she had seen how he "would help other people get rid of people -- fire people -- and I was afraid that would happen to me.''
Bustamante, a career civil servant and politician, has been charged with 12 felonies and four misdemeanors in connection with seven victims, some of whom he allegedly masturbated in front of. Rackauckas said Bustamante "groomed'' his victims and wore them down. If they tried to wiggle away from him, he at times blocked doors or pinned them to walls, Rackauckas said.
Bustamante was arrested on his way to Monday night's City Council meeting, Santa Ana Public Information Officer Jose Gonzalez said.
The arrest came nine months after Bustamante, once seen as a rising star in Orange County Republican politics, resigned as executive manager with the Orange County Public Works department amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving co-workers.
The married 47-year-old councilman, whose bail was set at $100,000, posted bond and was released at 11:25 p.m. Monday from the Orange County sheriff's Intake Release Center in Santa Ana, according to online jail records.
The councilman was arrested at 4:30 p.m. Monday on suspicion of 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, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. In addition to those felony charges, he also faces one misdemeanor count each of battery, assault, sexual battery and attempted
The charges include sentencing enhancements of committing the offenses as a result of sexual compulsion and for the purpose of sexual gratification. Bustamante resigned as director of administrative services in the county Public Works department in October after anonymous letters were sent to The Orange County Register making allegations against him. He issued a statement in September denying the allegations and another in October when he resigned.
"The allegations in the anonymous letters were unsubstantiated because they are not true,'' Bustamante said in October. "However, I have decided to never put my family or me through this horrible experience again. "Therefore I have decided to resign my position with the county and pursue a career in the private sector. I am very proud of my 12 years of distinguished county service and will miss working with my friends and colleagues at the county.''