Orange County reaches settlement with sexual assault victims in Bustamante case

Former public works manager Carlos Bustamante at his first appearance in Orange County Superior Court. He is now serving a one-year jail sentence for sex crimes.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved a settlement agreement with two women who were victims of former public works manager Carlos Bustamante, who is serving a one-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to sex crimes last December.

Officials agreed to pay $500,000 each to the women, who filed civil lawsuits against the county in August 2013. Both are former secretaries for the county; one worked for Bustamante, the other for Bustamante’s boss at the time.

Settlement negotiations began once the criminal case against Bustamante ended in January, with the former Santa Ana city councilman convicted of sexually assaulting subordinates and of committing grand theft of public funds.


“We pushed to resolve this quickly because we didn’t want to drag the victims through the mud or have them suffer more stress or exposure. This closes a dark chapter in our county’s history,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer said Tuesday evening.

Prosecutors had accused Bustamante of assaulting five women between 2009 and 2011 while working at the Orange County Public Works Department, saying he targeted women who worked with him and who were his subordinates.

The Orange County district attorney’s office began investigating Bustamante in March 2012. Authorities arrested him four months later, alleging that he also stole more than $3,000 in public funds for training at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“County employees in Bustamante’s chain of command, who may have contributed to a culture which tolerated the defendant’s acts, have all left the county or been terminated,” Spitzer said. They include the county CEO and the director of the Public Works Department.

As a result of this case, Spitzer said officials ordered sexual harassment training for all county managers.

Twitter: @newsterrier


3:56 p.m. July 13, 2016: This article has been updated to remove the women’s names.

This article was originally published at 10:12 p.m. July 12.