(Editor’s Note: This story contains content of a sexual nature that may be offensive to some readers)
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Southern California city councilman has been arrested and charged with sexual offenses, accused of acting as a sexual bully toward women with whom he worked when he was a public works executive in Orange County, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.
The allegations against Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante, once seen as a rising star in California Republican circles, have caused a scandal in the town 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles where he worked and was a councilman.
Bustamante, 47, was arrested on Monday and charged with six counts of false imprisonment, three counts of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, stalking, attempted sexual battery by restraint, and misdemeanor counts of battery, assault, sexual battery and attempted sexual battery.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the charges against Bustamante, who is married, stemmed from seven women who were employees at Orange County Public Works.
Rackauckas said Bustamante groomed certain women who were emotionally vulnerable and “wore them down” by making advances. He would call them into his office, grope them and sometimes masturbate in front of them, the prosecutor said.
Other sexual harassment occurred in stairwells and in parked cars, Rackauckas said.
Bustamante did not return a call or e-mail seeking comment.
He was also charged with grand theft by false pretense for what Rackauckas described as seeking too much reimbursement for his participation in a Harvard University educational program.
Bustamante is free on $100,000 bail. He faces a maximum of 26 years in prison if convicted of all charges. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)