Secretary of former O.C. executive testifies to sexual assault

Secretary of former O.C. executive testifies to sexual assault
Carlos Bustamante during a 2012 court appearance. Testimony in his preliminary hearing on multiple charges started Monday. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The secretary of a former Orange County executive recounted Monday how her then-boss wrapped his arms around her and kissed her neck in his office behind closed doors.

The woman identified as Jane Doe A testified against Carlos Bustamante, former Santa Ana councilman and administration manager at the county's public works department, at his preliminary hearing. He is charged with a dozen felonies, including attempted sexual battery, stalking, fraud and seven counts of false imprisonment.


Bustamante was arrested and charged in July 2012. The allegations led to the resignation, firing or leave of the people who oversaw him.

The alleged assault took place behind closed doors inside Bustamante's county office, Jane Doe A said. She said she bent her arms at the elbows, placed them in front of her and tried to push him off, but he was too strong.

Bustamante then attempted to kiss her, she said, forcing her to move her face to the left and right. He kissed her on the neck despite saying "no" multiple times, she said.

"I felt that I wasn't going to be able to get out, it seemed like forever," she said, clasping her hands. "It was escalating so I was beginning to feel scared and I felt there was more that would happen eventually."

He let her go and she told him never to do it again, Jane Doe A said. She said she was afraid to tell Human Resources because Bustamante oversaw the department and he had a good relationship with Tom Mauk, who was the county's chief executive.

Mauk resigned after the allegations against Bustamante came out.

"I was afraid I was going to lose my job," Jane Doe A said. "I was afraid to talk to anybody because I felt it wasn't going to go anywhere."

She described a number of other incidents involving Bustamante that made her uncomfortable.

She said Bustamante asked her what her favorite sexual position was and if she watched porn with her boyfriend. One time, she testified, he asked her what her bra size was because his wife had plans to get breast implants, and Bustamante thought they would be a good size for her.

Another time, she said, Bustamante told her he had a dream in which they were kissing on a balcony. She told him she didn't want to hear more.

"He continued to tell me about the dream, telling me that we were kissing ... " she said.

Bustamante asked her one day whether she would have sex with him, she said, and she told him she wouldn't.

"He said it wasn't a bad thing for him to have sex and that we should have fun if we were going to be working together," Jane Doe A said.

Prosecutors allege that Bustamante abused his power as a high-ranking county official to abuse at least seven female employees between 2003 and 2011.


Jane Doe A is expected to continue her testimony Tuesday morning, followed by another Jane Doe.

Bustamante is also charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing public funds to attend a government training program in Boston at a time when the county was struggling with a tight budget caused by the recession.

The program at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston cost $11,200 plus airfare and other expenses. Prosecutors allege that Bustamante agreed to pay $3,500 toward his tuition with the county paying $7,700.

But in July 2010 he filed a reimbursement request for $3,000 that was granted.

Thomas Conklin, an investigator with the Orange County district attorney's office, testified Monday morning that Bustamante's supervisor, Jess Carbajal, said it was difficult to manage him.

Carbajal was the former Public Works director before he was fired after the allegations against Bustamante became public. He said that it was difficult to control someone who "had an in with the county CEO" and that he was "always the last to know what" Bustamante was doing, Conklin said.