Judge Tosses Malicious Prosecution Claim

     (CN) – A federal judge dismissed the claims of a California district attorney who said he was maliciously prosecuted on charges he raped a junior colleague.
     Michael Gressett, of Martinez, Calif., sued the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office, a retired district attorney, and assorted officers and attorneys, in 2012.
     Gressett was arrested and indicted on charges that he raped a contract deputy district attorney while on a midday break, in 2008.
     As recounted by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in a ruling last week, the victim said she and Gressett planned to have lunch, but at the appointed hour, he drove the woman to his house instead.
     “Once plaintiff and [the woman] arrived at his house, they began engaging in consensual sexual activity,” the ruling states. “However, at a certain point, plaintiff forcefully grabbed [the woman] and proceeded to engage in anal sex with her despite [her] repeated protestations. At a certain point, plaintiff put a gun to the back of [her] head. Plaintiff handcuffed [the woman] and then took ice and inserted it in her anus and vagina using an ice pick. Plaintiff then instructed [the woman] to get in the shower. After [she] showered, plaintiff took her and forced her to engage in oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Plaintiff then returned [her] to the office.”
     (Note: The woman’s name appears in court documents and was omitted from this article.)
     She contacted her sister and a friend following the alleged rape, an affidavit of probable states, then met with investigators.
     Gressett was charged with 12 felony counts of sexual assault in 2008, and fired in 2009.
     However, in 2011, the case against him was dismissed when a judge ruled that prosecutors failed to tell a grand jury that the woman received a $450,000 settlement from Contra Costa County.
     An arbitrator ordered Gressett reinstated, finding allegations that his investigation was “tainted with political animosity to be supported by the evidence,” Chen wrote.
     “In 2008, it was known that Gressett was going to support Mark Peterson’s run for DA in 2010, while the DA at the time, defendant Robert Kochly, was supporting Peterson’s opponent, defendant Daniel O’Malley,” the ruling states.
     O’Malley used the case against Gressett in his campaign against Peterson, Gressett claimed.
     Assorted defendants contributed political and financial support to O’Malley’s campaign, Gressett added, and the Martinez Police chief was given a job with the Alameda County district attorney’s office when O’Malley’s sister became the Alameda County district attorney.
     Gressett filed an initial complaint in Contra Costa County Superior Court, in 2012, after the state’s attorney general’s office notified him that it did not intend to refile charges.
     The lawsuit was removed to northern California federal court, where Chen found that Gressett failed to establish a “plausible claim” that the defendants participated in a “putative conspiracy.”
     “Plaintiff must plead facts establishing that each defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the malicious prosecution against him,” Chen wrote.
     “All of [Gressett’s] causes of action rely on each defendant having some degree of knowledge that plaintiff did not commit rape, yet he largely does not plead facts suggesting they had such knowledge, instead simply concluding that all defendants ‘knew’ that the woman accusing him of rape had reason to lie,” the 56-page ruling states. “Similarly, a number of his claims depend on the defendants somehow causing his constitutional deprivations, yet plaintiff does not plead facts establishing causation.”
     Chen dismissed Gressett’s defamation claim against nine defendants with prejudice, dismissed his malicious prosecution claims without prejudice and with leave to amend, and denied anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation motions to strike his defamation claim.
     Gressett may amend the lawsuit within 30 days of the ruling, levied May 17.

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