Today's San Francisco Chronicle looks at the charges against Michael Gressett, 52, a veteran prosecutor in the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office who unsucessfully ran three times for the job now held by Robert Kochly.
As the Chronicle describes, Gressett is accused of raping a younger, junior colleague on May 8, 2008. He apparently brought her to his Martinez condominium for a "nooner"--that is, a sex break during lunch hour as he awaited a jury verdict on a molestation trial he was prosecuting.
Gressett says the rough sex that ensued was consensual; the use of objects, such as a gun, ice picks, and handcuffs, were intended to be playful. He alleges that the charges brought against him by the state's Attorney General Office "have been unduly influenced by his political opponents in his own office."
The victim, who is not being named, says there was nothing consensual or playful about what happened to her. The 30-year-old woman acknowledges that she undressed to have sex with Gressett, but then things went in a direction she didn't want them to go, that he pressed on by "sodomizing her, holding a gun to her head, handcuffing her, and jamming ice into her before making threats." She says she cried and begged him to stop.
Whatever happens with Gressett's case--whether a crime will be proved, whether Gressett will get his way and have a special prosecutor assigned--are among some of the unsettling aspects of the case.
What's also unpleasant is reading how the alleged victim described the workplace environment.
In this legal office, "talk of sex toys and role-playing was apparently the norm." Okay, gallows humor is a feature of police departments, coroner's offices, news rooms.
But: "The sex crimes unit of the district attorney's office, she recalled, was a highly sexualized place where she, Gressett and others bantered about rough sex and directed gallows humor toward the crime victims they represented."
Toward the victims they represented.
I'm mulling that last bit of information over.
Okay, how comfortable do you think you'd be coming forward to a Contra Costa sex crimes prosecutor to describe something traumatic and of an intimate nature that happened to you?How comfortable would you be entrusting your child to someone who might talk disparagingly about her behind her back?
Dear Mr. Kochly, I think it's time for us Contra Costa County residents--and taxpayers--to hear from you about how you intend to rein in your employees, maybe how you've instituted at least some sensitivity training.Regardless of Mr. Gressett's alleged conduct, it would be nice to hear from you that you do no tolerate this kind of banter and humor at the expense of victims in your office.