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Sexual harassment charges leveled against California councilman

Several victims of sexual harassment have come forward with accusations against Carlos Bustamante, a former Orange County official and current Santa Ana city councilman. He stands accused of sexual harassment against women with whom he worked with while employed as a public works executive with the county. His arrest has focused a spotlight on these types of crimes and the efforts of victims who seek to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

Authorities say the councilman faces six charges of false imprisonment, stalking, attempted sexual battery, and three counts of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense. He has also been charged with misdemeanor counts of battery, sexual battery, assault and other charges. The accusations originated from seven women who were employees at the county public works department in which Bustamante had previously worked.

The district attorney prosecuting the case claims that the councilman, who is married, targeted emotionally weak women. He accuses the councilman of grooming these women and calling them into his office where he groped them and pleasured himself in their presence. The district attorney alleges other incidents happened in stairwells and in parked vehicles.

The official also faces charges of grand theft by false pretense for allegedly trying to get more in reimbursements than he was entitled to for an education program he participated in. The California councilman faces up to 26 years behind bars if convicted of every charge.

Employees are entitled to a workplace environment free of sexual harassment and discrimination. Victims of this type of harassment are entitled to have their claims pursued through criminal action. They may also have a right to seek compensation through civil action for the physical, emotional and social suffering they've endured.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "California councilman charged with sexual offenses," Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters, July 3, 2012

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