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  • Orange County Councilmember Accused of Sexual Harassment

    Carlos Bustamonte is in hot water these days. Out of jail on $100,000 bail, he faces multiple charges of sexual assault that took place while he was on the job as an administrator for the Orange County Public Works Department. Currently he runs the risk of losing his position as a Santa Ana City Councilmember, as well as his freedom.

    Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has charged Bustamonte with numerous felonies that could result in a state prison sentence of 26 years if convictions are won on all counts. That is some serious time for some serious allegations.

    Rackauckas stated that Bustamonte exposed himself to his victims, masturbated in front of them, would lure them into his office under the pretense of a business conversation and then kiss, hug and squeeze them. If they tried to run away, he would pin them against the wall, several stating that they could feel his erect penis against their bodies. He also told a few of his victims that his office was sound proof so no one would hear them scream. What makes his conduct particularly egregious is that the women Bustamonte targeted were his subordinates afraid of reporting him for fear of committing “career suicide.”

    Workplace sexual harassment is prohibited by both federal and California state law. Harassment conduct that is based on a person’s sex, comments or conduct that is sexual in nature, or unwelcomed physical contact can violate the law. Isolated incidents will generally be insufficient to make a successful claim unless they are quite severe, however. A sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County can give you more information.

    In the case of Bustamonte, there are seven victims to the alleged acts with the assaults occurring between 2003 and 2011. Rackauckas also indicated that there were twelve other women that came forward but the state statue of limitations barred filing counts based on these victims’ claims. No isolated incidents here, it appears as if Bustamonte has been a busy man.

    And the charged counts include incidents that took place at Bustamonte’s office at the Orange County Public Works Department, in stairwells, parking lots and areas where Bustamonte drove the victims.

    While the case could spell disaster for Bustamonte, it is currently spilling over to others in his office. Tom Mauk, the CEO of Orange County, may lose his job for his part in handling (or not handling) the allegations against Bustamonte.

    Employers need to have effective policies in place to protect themselves from liability when an employee harasses a co-worker or subordinate. If an employer hears a complaint and does nothing, they can be held responsible for the harassment conduct of their employees and face financial repercussions. If you or anyone you know is suffering from unwelcomed sexual attention, consult a sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County.