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A veteran Contra Costa County, CA sex-crimes prosecutor was arrested Thursday on suspicion of rape, Martinez police said.Deputy District Attorney Michael Gressett, 51, of Martinez is suspected of raping another deputy district attorney, according to two sources close to the investigation. A statement issued by Martinez police did not refer to the alleged victim.
Gressett was booked on suspicion of committing rape, oral copulation, sodomy and penetration with a foreign object, all felonies, Cmdr. Eric Ghisletta said in the police statement. The alleged attack occurred "several months ago," police said, but they did not give a date.
Gressett's attorney, Michael Cardoza, said his client is innocent and will "fight these allegations very vigorously."
"Everybody that knows him is exceedingly shocked by these allegations," Cardoza said. "The problem with allegations like this is that when he walks away innocent, there will always be people who will wonder. The allegations alone have a devastating effect."
Gressett was being held Thursday night in the county jail in Martinez in lieu of $1 million bail, a sheriff's deputy said.
Ghisletta said investigators were first told of the alleged attack Sept. 26. Officers later served a search warrant and "discovered evidence which was consistent with the victim's statements," Ghisletta said.
Police did not say where the warrant had been served.
"It's a sad day for our office for anything like this to occur," District Attorney Robert Kochly said late Thursday. "Anything of this nature is devastating to the office. It's antithetical to what we're about."
Kochly said Martinez police planned to turn over their evidence to the office of state Attorney General Jerry Brown to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Brown's office will decide on possible charges.
Gressett was arrested near the district attorney's office in Martinez. He was then placed on paid administrative leave, Kochly said.
Gressett has worked as a prosecutor for more than 20 years, and worked in the sex-crimes unit for the past 2 1/2 years, Kochly said. He ran unsuccessfully three times for Contra Costa district attorney, in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
During his most recent campaign, Gressett pledged to initiate a "real" no plea-bargaining policy, mandating maximum prosecution of violent felonies, including rape.
During his 1998 campaign, Gressett proposed a program that would list the disposition of every criminal case on the Internet.
"It's my belief that sunshine is the best disinfectant," Gressett said then. "This would hold the district attorney accountable. The one institution we need pure is the district attorney's office."
Gressett grew up in New Mexico and earned his law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1986.
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