What must it be like to be Michael Gressett right now? His career, his life, possibly in ruins?
He’s a veteran prosecutor in the sexual assault unit of the District Attorney’s office in my home county of Contra Costa, east of San Francisco. As I write this, he had been arrested just the morning before a block from his office, Martinez, California, the county seat, on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female colleague.
Gressett was booked into the local county jail on suspicion of rape, forced oral copulation, sodomy, and penetration with a foreign object. After spending the night in jail, he posted $1 million bail and was released the following day.
As they say, the details are sketchy. But as a local newspaper reported, the story unfolded a week earlier when a female deputy district attorney went to her supervisor to say she had been assaulted by Gressett. She said the attack had occurred several months earlier. The supervisor then called the police department in the county seat of Martinez, where Gressett also lives. Authorities say the rape occurred a few months ago. Police say they served a search warrant and "found evidence that corroborated the victim's statements."
This, of course, is a sensitive case. For one thing, Gressett has been with this prosecutor’s office since 1987 and ran unsuccessfully for the office’s top job in 1994, 1998 and 2002. To avoid a conflict of interest, the office has asked the state Attorney General’s office to review the investigation and decide whether charges should be filed. Since Gresettt is no longer in custody, the state prosecutor’s office doesn’t need to rush to decide whether to file charges.
In the meantime, Gressett is represented by Bay Area legal mouthpiece, err, attorney, Michael Cardoza. Sorry to editorialize a bit, but Cardoza happens to be one of our local legal eagles who likes to get himself into the spotlight by showing up at high-profile trials, such as the Scott Peterson case, wearing natty suits, just in case TV reporters pull him aside for his “expert” legal analysis.
As quoted by the Contra Costa Times, Cardoza says: "The legal community has been shaken to its core — most everyone is in disbelief ... Allegations like this are easily made, and the accusation alone destroys lives. We will be fighting this to the very end."