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Former Orange County Politician Pleads Guilty To Sexual Battery

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Former Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante pleaded guilty today to sexual harassing a number of women while employed at the county Public Works Department. Carlos Bustamante, who was arrested in July of 2012 as he was headed to a Santa Ana City Council meeting, pleaded guilty today to felony counts of attempted sexual battery and stalking and misdemeanor counts of attempted sexual battery, simple assault, grand theft and two counts of false imprisonment, according to City News Service. He will be sentenced on January 22, and, as a condition of his plea agreement, is expected to serve one year in jail, followed by five years of probation. The former Councilman will also be required to register as a sex offender of the rest of his life.

The charges stem from the accusations that he sexually harassed seven female coworkers, dating from 2003 to 2012. Some said that he asked them into his office, then would close the door and touch them. Other women said the incidents happened in elevators, cars or even at their own desks, according to the OC Register. The women said they struggled to get away from him. In a press conference that followed his arrest, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rauckaukas talked about the allegations, saying that Bustamante targeted "emotionally vulnerable" women with "similar ethnic backgrounds, age range and physical characteristics." He offered graphic details of the assaults:

[Bustamante] rubbed his face against theirs, grabbed their breasts, touched their bare thighs, moved his hands up towards their vaginas on the upper part of the leg, under skirts sometimes, grabbed their buttocks, exposed himself—exposed himself and even masturbated in front his victims on a number of occasions. When they attempted to escape from the office, he cornered them to prevent them from leaving. He pinned them against walls, hugged them tightly, close enough the victims describe that when he was hugging them—squeezing them—they could feel his erect penis through the clothes.

Bustamante's lawyer claimed that Rauckaukas sensationalized the allegations, and attempted to get the charges dismissed.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley did make the decision to throw out five felony counts of false imprisonment and three felony counts of assault with intent to commit a sex offense. If those charges hadn't been dismissed, Bustamante could have faced 26 years, according to the OC Register.

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Bustamante is also accused of stealing over $3,100 meant for tuition reimbursement to pay for a Harvard School of Government program.

Bustamante had been elected to City Council in 2004, and was married at the time of the sexual battery. Prosecutor Aleta Bryant said that Bustamante had a history of trying to take advantage of women he worked with, including back in 1998 when he worked as an investigator with the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, according to OC Weekly. Bustamante ultimately left that job as there was an investigation into the allegations that he had repeatedly harassed a female coworker, including exposing himself to her and touching her inappropriately.