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O.C. councilman lured women into office, groped them, D.A. says

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, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said Tuesday.

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.

Over 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.

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-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Santa Ana

 
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