General Crime

* Michael Gressett pleaded not guilty to charges of rape in Contra Costa County

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Former Contra Costa County prosecutor Michael Gressett pleaded not guilty today to charges that he raped and sodomized a junior colleague during a lunch break at his house in Martinez in 2008. Gressett’s plea came a year after a secret grand jury returned a 13-count indictment in the case, accusing Gressett of four counts of forced sodomy, four counts of sexual penetration by force, two counts of forcible rape, one count of forced oral copulation, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal threats against the victim on May 8, 2008. The indictment also charges Gressett with numerous enhancements, including allegations that he used an ice pick and a handgun and tied or bound the alleged victim during the assault. Gressett pleaded not guilty to all counts and denied all enhancements during a hearing in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez today. A trial date has not yet been set, pending the outcome of motions to be filed by the defense and responses from the state Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the case. Gressett’s attorney Michael Kotin said he is planning to file a motion to dismiss the charges, a motion to have a different judge assigned to the case and a motion to keep the grand jury transcript sealed. A previous motion to have a different judge appointed to the case was denied, but the defense is planning to file a second motion to have Judge Carlos Ynostroza removed from the case. “It is my belief that Judge Ynostroza is prejudiced against the interests of my client,” Kotin said. He said he did not believe that Gressett would receive a fair trial if Ynostroza continued to preside over the case. A hearing on whether to keep the transcripts sealed will be held Nov. 19 and a hearing on the motion to dismiss the charges will be held on Dec. 17.  
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