Tom Mauk, the CEO of Orange County — or the O.C. as the kids were calling it not a few days ago — will resign over criticism of how he handled (or mishandled, as the case may be) allegations that Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante sexually assaulted women working in the Orange County Public Works department.
Supervisors emerged from a closed session Thursday to announce that Mauk would be vacating his post as the O.C.'s top frozen banana by August 3. Since the allegations against Bustamante were made public, the county's director of public works has been fired and the deputy chief executive who oversaw the department where Bustamente worked has taken an abrupt medical leave.
Though he has maintained his innocence since resigning from his public works post last fall, Bustamante stands accused of sexually assault at least seven women, all of them subordinates, all during his eight year-tenure as an executive in the Public Works department. According to the really icky details of his case, Bustamante allegedly would "lure" the women into his office — which he creepily assured them was soundproof — where he would corner them, and kiss or touch them. Extra-lurid details indicate that sometimes Bustamante would pin the women against a wall in his office and masturbate in front of them.
Now that we've all had a nice, fortifying throw-up, we can continue. The charges against Bustamante have raised questions about the efficacy of the county government's internal investigations. One such investigation was assigned to a subordinate staff member and another was quietly filed away. Neither investigation, however, was turned in to prosecutors until March, a full year after the first allegations against Bustamante had surfaced.
Bustamante's lawyer has asked that the case be dismissed because of "derogatory and inflammatory statements" that prosecutors have made to the media, and a hearing will be held on August 30. If convicted, Bustamante could face more than 26 years in prison. Mauk, meanwhile, stands as simply the latest leader to defer responsibility for potentially damaging sexual assault allegations, not realizing, in fact, that the best way to deal with a problem like this is to, you know, actually deal with it.