General Crime

* Contra Costa County Sex Crimes Prosecutor Michael Gressett Fired from Job

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A judge in Martinez denied a motion today seeking to block the state attorney general’s office from prosecuting the case against Michael Gressett, a former Contra Costa County sex crimes prosecutor accused of raping a colleague in 2008. Gressett is free on $1 million bail and was on paid administrative leave until Friday, when he was fired from the district attorney’s office, according to his attorneys. Gressett’s attorneys filed a motion in June claiming that the attorney general’s office should be removed from the case because of a conflict of interest on the part of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, which they claim actually led the investigation. Defense attorneys have claimed that Gressett, 52, and his accuser had a consensual sexual relationship and that the decision to file charges against Gressett was politically motivated. “This is a political case. There’s no way, based on these facts, that any reasonable person could think they could prosecute this case,” Daniel Russo, one of Gressett’s attorneys, said outside the courthouse today. In his response to the defense’s motion, Supervising Deputy Attorney General Peter Flores claimed that the investigation was conducted according to county investigation protocol that has been in place for 25
years. That protocol allows the agency involved in an alleged crime, in this case the district attorney’s office, to be involved in the investigation. Flores, however, said that the state attorney general’s office led the investigation and made all decisions about how to proceed and whether to file charges. Gressett has been charged with 12 felonies for allegedly raping and sodomizing a probationary deputy district attorney during a lunch break at his home in Martinez on May 8, 2008. Prosecutors have alleged that Gressett used a gun, handcuffs and an ice pick during the assault and threatened to kill the victim, who is referred to in court documents as “Jane Doe”. Gressett has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorneys have said they have no doubt that Gressett will be found innocent. Gressett’s attorneys are now working on a motion to compel the alleged victim to testify at the preliminary hearing, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 17. Michael Cardoza, one of Gressett’s attorneys, has said that Jane
Doe has given varying accounts of what took place that day, refused to turn over cell phone and medical records and even lied about injuries she allegedly sustained during the incident. Flores said that his office would try to prevent the defense from
calling Jane Doe to testify at the preliminary hearing. A voter-passed initiative, Proposition 115, protects alleged victims from having to testify multiple times, Flores said. In most cases, police testify on behalf of an alleged victim during the preliminary hearing and the victim is called to testify only if the case goes to trial.

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