Jul 24, 2023

In 1999, I was in Santa Monica scouting out a location for where I'd meet a musician for an interview. I decided to go a couple of days early to make sure I knew exactly where our meeting place was and how long it would take me to get there. It was a rehearsal. I learned from studying World War One assault troops that the most successful missions were rehearsed multiple times. I didn't plan on assaulting my interviewee, but all my interviews were missions of a sort.

I became involved in an assault, though.

As I stood at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn green, a young man shoved past me so forcefully that I lost my balance and had to take a couple of steps to keep from falling. The guy had a backpack in his left hand, holding it by the straps. He pushed in front of me and held the backpack under the rear end of a young woman wearing a short skirt. I saw that there was a wire leading from the backpack into the man's hand. He had a camera in the backpack, and he was filming upskirt videos.

This made me extremely angry. I followed the guy and watched him film at least four women. Then he went into a clothing store and put his backpack under the changing room doors. He seemed invisible to everybody. I was the only person who noticed what he did. One of the changing room doors opened, and a child emerged. I went outside and crossed the street, keeping an eye on the front of the store while waiting to see if I could flag down a cop. Soon a female bicycle officer rode past. I stopped her and described what I'd seen, and at that moment the cameraman came out of the store. The cop told me to stay put and called for backup.

Several officers arrived, and they detained the cameraman. He refused them permission to look inside his bag, so right there on the sidewalk, I had to give a report to a supervisor who then called a judge and got a search warrant, based on my account. It took about thirty minutes. The warrant was presented, the bag was searched, the video found, and the cameraman was arrested.

A few weeks later, a detective from the Santa Monica Police Department called and told me I'd have to testify at the cameraman's trial. What he'd done is a felony sexual assault. I agreed, but I was then called again a few days later and told that the cameraman had pled guilty to a lesser charge, and my testimony wouldn't be needed.

Fast forward to October of 2012. I got a call from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The cameraman was now charged with forcible rape of a minor child, and the judge had ruled that the defendant's prior history was admissible. However, I'd have to testify to the crime I witnessed in 1999. The defendant had the right to cross-examine me, even though he'd pled guilty. His public defender would try to discredit me.

From October of 2012 until yesterday, July 23, 2013, the trial was delayed twelve times. The case was assigned to five different Assistant District Attorneys. After the ninth delay, I actually made it to the court at Pomona, driving myself despite the possibility of a rotational vertigo attack. When I got there, they told me that the trial had been delayed again.

The defendant demanded and was granted several sanity hearings, and then his attorney kept asking for delays due to reasons of his own poor health. The last Assistant District Attorney I spoke to said that the  defense attorney's tactics were dishonest, because the attorney was in perfect health, but the judge had to grant his requests to keep from creating grounds for appeal. I finally asked the Assistant District Attorney how he did his job when faced with dishonesty, corruption, and lawyers who fall deeply in love with criminals and do everything in their power to keep them from being held accountable for their crimes.

"It can be very hard," he admitted.

A month ago, the defense asked that the trial be moved to West Covina. A new judge was assigned, and this one determined that prior history would not be admissible. Again, my testimony won't be needed. Or rather, it won't be allowed.

I really wanted to testify, despite the toll all of this took on me. The defendant—whose name I could legally tell you—has been committing sexual assaults steadily since 1999, each one more serious than the last. And now he's forcibly raped a child. But the fact that he's been assaulting people since at least 1999 was judged to be either irrelevant or unfair to bring up. The Assistant District Attorney says he's confident he'll win the case. I didn't know this statistic until a few days ago: About 93 percent of criminal trials result in convictions. So it's very likely that the cameraman-turned-rapist will go to jail, probably for the rest of his life.

It would've been very gratifying to have helped put him in jail for the rest of his life. He's left a trail of pain, destruction, and ruined people. It's wonderful that he has an attorney who will do anything to keep him free.

I wonder if the public defender ever thinks about the dozens and dozens of people his client destroyed?