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Calif. councilman faces charges for alleged sexual harassment

In many sexual harassment cases in the workplace, those being harassed are hesitant to step forward for fear of losing their job. In other instances, even when an employee reports harassment to their supervisor, they are answered with inaction and disdain. Fortunately, with the help of legal recourse through criminal and civil courts, some victims are able to get justice.

Recently, a 47-year-old city councilman in Southern California has been accused of sexually harassing seven women when he was serving a term as a high-ranking county executive. The charges were brought against the administrative manager, who worked with the Orange County Public Works. He faces several felony charges, ranging from false imprisonment to sex offenses.

The alleged crimes occurred between 2003 and 2011, when he resigned from his post. The man is currently a city councilman in Santa Ana.

The women have accused the man of luring them into his office with work-related questions. He would then reportedly close the door, kissing and hugging the women without their consent. He also sometimes grabbed them, they say, and forced them to watch him perform sexual acts on himself.

The women were reportedly reluctant to come forward to report the incidents, largely because the man was high-ranking and commonly considered a rising political star in the agency. They thought they might lose their job if they accused their boss of sexual harassment. Orange County prosecutors say that shows a classic abuse of power scenario, where the women were led to believe that their jobs would be endangered if they spoke up.

The man was arrested in early July, and he was released on $100,000 bond within 24 hours of apprehension. He faces charges of false imprisonment, assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, as well as other charges.

Investigators began to delve further into the man's affairs after they received an anonymous letter about his conduct in March. Prosecutors have said that a statute of limitations prohibits other women from coming forward to report their victimization in man's office.

If he is convicted, he faces as long as 26 years in a state prison. The allegations come amid a string of other corruption accusations among elected officials and other high-ranking public workers.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Carlos Bustamante arrested: Santa Ana city councilman faces sex assault charges," Amy Taxin, July 3, 2012

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