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Sex-harassment scandal could lead to firing of top O.C. official

July 6, 2012 |  5:26 am

A sex scandal involving Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante could cost Orange County's chief executive officer, Tom Mauk, his job

A sex-harassment scandal involving a Santa Ana councilman could cost Orange County's chief executive officer his job.

At issue is the case of a former county administrator accused of sexually harassing at least seven women on and around government property over a span of eight years.

Carlos Bustamante, the Santa Ana councilman and a former administrator in the Public Works Department, was charged this week with 12 felonies, including stalking, attempted sexual battery by restraint and six counts of false imprisonment.

Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach requested a special closed meeting Friday to discuss the termination of Tom Mauk and the appointment of an interim county executive officer, according to a memo sent Thursday to the clerk of the board.

The memo outlines the meeting's agenda items as including a potential employee dismissal and the appointment of an interim county executive officer.

Moorlach would not give a reason for the closed session, but said "there could be a correlation" between the recent allegations and the special meeting.

"We just need some time for the five of us to discuss personnel matters," he said of himself and fellow supervisors. He also noted that Mauk, 68, is near retirement age.

Prosecutors allege that Bustamante used his power in the Public Works Department to intimidate women. He is accused of luring employees into his office under the pretense of discussing work-related matters, then sexually assaulting them by kissing, hugging and pressing his body into theirs.

He allegedly also told the women that his walls were soundproof, so no one would hear them if they screamed, prosecutors said.

Bustamante appeared in court Thursday but did not enter a plea.

Prosecutors have said investigators are continuing to focus on whether anyone within county government knew about the allegations.

"We will be talking to everyone who will be able to shed light on these questions," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said.


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Photo: Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach in 2007. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times