Contra Costa prosecutor charged with raping colleague

(11-21) 12:58 PST MARTINEZ -- A Contra Costa County sex crimes prosecutor pleaded not guilty today to charges that he tied up, raped and sodomized a colleague while threatening her with an ice pick and handgun.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Gressett, 51, is accused of tying and binding the woman at his home in Martinez on May 8, according to a copy of the criminal complaint.

Prosecutors filed 12 felony counts against him in Contra Costa County Superior Court, including rape, sodomy, oral copulation by force and forcible sexual penetration, with enhancements for using deadly weapons - the handgun and ice pick.

They also accused Gressett of falsely imprisoning the woman in his vehicle the same day and threatening her with "a crime which would result in death."

Gressett and his attorney, Michael Cardoza, strongly denied that he had done anything wrong. Cardoza said Gressett and the alleged victim had a consensual relationship.

They spoke outside the Martinez courthouse after the charges were filed by the state attorney general's office. State prosecutors took over the case to avoid a possible conflict of interest for the Contra Costa district attorney, although Deputy Attorney General Peter Flores said the D.A. is helping with the investigation.

Although the alleged crime took place in May, Gressett was not arrested until Oct. 2, a week after Martinez police say they learned of the incident. Flores would not discuss the reason for the delay.

If convicted of all counts, Flores said, Gressett could be sentenced to life in prison.

In court this morning, Gressett appeared upbeat as he waited for the arraignment to begin. He smiled several times as he joked with his defense team and said hello to other attorneys in the courtroom.

Judge Charles Treat ordered Gressett to return to court Jan. 27 and to stay away from his accuser, a condition that Gressett called "perfectly acceptable."

The alleged victim was not identified, but two sources close to the investigation have said she is also a deputy district attorney.

Gressett is free on $1 million bail and is on paid administrative leave from the district attorney's office.

"The truth will come out," Gressett said outside the Martinez courthouse. "I do feel sorry - this is painful for my family, my loved ones, my colleagues. I am standing now in disillusionment of the system. ... I hate this route we're taking, but it's probably the only way to have public vindication."

Cardoza insisted that Gressett and the woman had a consensual relationship and sought to discredit her and the investigation, questioning why it took more than four months for the probe to begin. He said a trial will "hurt a lot of people" and said the woman had made the accusations because she was at risk of losing her job.

Cardoza said Gressett and the woman had exchanged text messages that would prove they had a romantic relationship, but that those messages -as well as any other forensic evidence - had disappeared by the time she went to police.

"She would have known that (text messages disappear) as a prosecutor," Cardoza said. "They let evidence go by the wayside. ... They both knew what the relationship was about, and that's why those text messages are so important."

He also noted that Gressett has run unsuccessfully for district attorney three times, most recently in 2002, and said the district attorney's office - which is helping in the investigation - should recuse itself entirely.

E-mail Marisa Lagos at

No comments: