Thursday, October 02, 2008

Deputy D.A. Arrested for Suspicion of Rape

A veteran Contra Costa County sex-crimes prosecutor was arrested Thursday on suspicion of rape, Martinez police said.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Gressett, 51, of Martinez is suspected of raping another deputy district attorney, according to two sources close to the investigation. A statement issued by Martinez police did not refer to the alleged victim.

Gressett was booked on suspicion of committing rape, oral copulation, sodomy and penetration with a foreign object, all felonies, Cmdr. Eric Ghisletta said in the police statement. The alleged attack occurred "several months ago," police said, but they did not give a date.

Gressett's attorney, Michael Cardoza, said his client is innocent and will "fight these allegations very vigorously."

"Everybody that knows him is exceedingly shocked by these allegations," Cardoza said. "The problem with allegations like this is that when he walks away innocent, there will always be people who will wonder. The allegations alone have a devastating effect."

Gressett was being held Thursday night in the county jail in Martinez in lieu of $1 million bail, a sheriff's deputy said.

Ghisletta said investigators were first told of the alleged attack Sept. 26. Officers later served a search warrant and "discovered evidence which was consistent with the victim's statements," Ghisletta said.

Police did not say where the warrant had been served.

"It's a sad day for our office for anything like this to occur," District Attorney Robert Kochly said late Thursday. "Anything of this nature is devastating to the office. It's antithetical to what we're about."

Kochly said Martinez police planned to turn over their evidence to the office of state Attorney General Jerry Brown to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Brown's office will decide on possible charges.

Gressett was arrested near the district attorney's office in Martinez. He was then placed on paid administrative leave, Kochly said.

Gressett has worked as a prosecutor for more than 20 years, and worked in the sex-crimes unit for the past 2 1/2 years, Kochly said. He ran unsuccessfully three times for Contra Costa district attorney, in 1994, 1998 and 2002.

During his most recent campaign, Gressett pledged to initiate a "real" no plea-bargaining policy, mandating maximum prosecution of violent felonies, including rape.

During his 1998 campaign, Gressett proposed a program that would list the disposition of every criminal case on the Internet.

"It's my belief that sunshine is the best disinfectant," Gressett said then. "This would hold the district attorney accountable. The one institution we need pure is the district attorney's office."

Gressett grew up in New Mexico and earned his law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1986.

Director of Local Prison Arrested for Having Sex with Inmate

The director of education at a local prison has been taken into custody for having sex with an inmate following an investigation by the West Virginia State Police.

Standley Greene, 40, of Charleston, was arrested by Cpl. C.K. Zerkle Tuesday in the Mason County Magistrate Court, where he had gone to turn himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to Sgt. E.B. Starcher, detachment commander.

Greene faces a charge of sexual intercourse with an incarcerated person.

He appeared before Magistrate Cheryl Ross along with his attorney and posted a $5,000 bond through a bail bondsman.

On Aug. 22, Greene allegedly had sexual relations with an inmate at the Lakin Correctional Facility for Women, where he is employed as the director of education. According to the complaint, the inmate was in Greene’s office at the facility, which is where the alleged encounter took place.

The Mason County Detachment of the West Virginia State Police was contacted by Warden Adrian Hoke after he learned of the encounter.

Senior Trooper J.K. Cox then began a six-week investigation, which resulted in submitting an application for an arrest warrant.

According to state law, any person who is employed at a correctional facility is not allowed to have any sexual relations with an inmate and can be found guilty of a felony.

Officer Wayne Longe Once Again Charged with Sexual Assault

An Atlanta police officer whose criminal charges were thrown out earlier this week has been reindicted on the same sexual assault charges, according to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

Wayne Longe is once again charged with sexual assault against a person in custody and violation of oath by a public officer, according to the indictment obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Atlanta and Fulton County news Longe, a police officer since 2002 who is on administrative leave, was originally brought up on those charges in June. He is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the back of his patrol car while on duty in July 2004.

The sexual encounter occurred at Anderson Park in northwest Atlanta.

Longe’s attorney, Jackie Patterson, says Longe admits to having sex with the woman but says it was consensual.

On Monday, a Fulton County Superior Court judge threw out the indictment because the paperwork didn’t specify what kind of sex allegedly took place.

As a result, Longe’s attorney, Jackie Patterson, said the District Attorney’s Office could not reindict Longe because he contends the four-year statute of limitations has run out.

The District Attorney’s Office says it hasn’t, pointing to a Georgia law stating that when a case is thrown out, the statute of limitations is extended by six months from the date that it was quashed.

Longe’s new indictment, with more detailed language, was handed up by a grand jury on Tuesday.

Patterson said Thursday that he believes the second indictment will not stand, either. His argument is that Longe did not have the opportunity to go before a grand jury to provide a statement, which law enforcement officers are entitled to if the alleged crime occurred when they were “in the performance of his or her duties,” according to state law.

Yvette Brown, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors did not have to notify Longe or invite him to the grand jury hearing. She cited prior case law that says the crime of rape is not part of an officer’s official duties, so an officer charged with that offense doesn’t have a right to speak before a grand jury.

Brown said she could not address the fact that Long has not been charged with rape.

Patterson provided The Atlanta Journal-Constitution with a letter from a Fulton County prosecutor inviting Longe to attend the first grand jury hearing. It states that “you and your attorney, if you choose to have one, are entitled to be present during the presentation of evidence against you.”

Brown said she had not read the letter and couldn’t address specific wording, but said it was sent out as a “courtesy” to Longe and that he has never been entitled by law to attend the grand jury hearings.

Cpl. Michael Harvey Charged with Abusing 5-year-old

Injuries to a 5-year-old have led to a Shreveport police officer turning himself in on a warrant charging him with one count of domestic abuse battery.

Cpl. Michael Harvey was identified as a suspect Sept. 17, a day after an educator complained about suspicious injuries to the child, Police Chief Henry Whitehorn Jr. said.

Details about the injuries to the child and the child's relationship to Harvey were not immediately available.

Harvey was placed on administrative leave and a warrant for his arrest, with bond set at $10,000, was signed Oct. 1 after the Caddo district attorney's office reviewed an initial investigation.

Harvey, a 13-year veteran of the Shreveport Police Department, will remain on leave pending an internal investigation, Whitehorn said.