There are over a quarter million lawyers in California — 266,000 to be exact, with 190,000 actively working. Two of those attorneys made news this week.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan runs the sixth largest DA’s office in the country. Private attorney Dan Gilleon filed a civil lawsuit in the alleged assault and rape of an allegedly intoxicated 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party near San Diego State University over a year ago.
SDSU football players were alleged to have committed a number of crimes by, according to news reports, the alleged victim’s father. One of the players was a consensus All-American who was drafted by the NFL Buffalo BIlls and showered with a boatload of cash.
The San Diego Police Department thoroughly investigated the case. SDSU police were also alerted despite the alleged incident’s location which was not on campus or on any university property.
The SDPD’s investigation was extensive. SDPD insiders say over two dozen officers were involved. Dozens of people were interviewed. Thousands upon thousands of dollars were spent on regular investigators as well as a fortune in overtime.
When the SDPD finished investigating the case they produced a comprehensive report, submission letter and turned over all evidence to Stephan and her staff. The conclusion of the letter was clear: no prosecution. There simply was not enough evidence to guarantee that twelve San Diegans could find the young men guilty.
What’s missing from this story line? Here’s where someone not involved in the investigation, attorney Dan Gilleon, enters. He filed a civil lawsuit against the young men on behalf of the young woman. He did this before Stephan even entered the case.
Normally civil lawsuits are filed after a criminal trial because only a “preponderance of evidence” is needed to win. For example, football star O.J. Simpson was sued successfully in Santa Monica after being found not guilty of murder in a famous case in downtown Los Angeles.
Timing wise, Gilleon was, most probably, trying to influence the District Attorney before she made a decision on charging the young men. It didn’t work.
First, the San Diego police did not recommend charges. One critical factor was the young woman’s behavior at the party. She told everyone she was 18. Everyone. That age is the line between statutory rape and rape.
Attorney Gilleon tells the press that the DA never prosecutes anyone when the alleged victim is intoxicated. The young woman and her father claim she was too intoxicated to resist the alleged gang rape.
He omits that, though the investigation discovered some DNA in the rape kit that was connected with the men alleged to have raped her, the nationally well-known young man involved volunteered his DNA and no one has said this was discovered in the rape kit.
Moreover, though the overly intoxicated young woman claims he was one of the rapists, not a single witness has offered that they saw him enter the house where she claims the felonies occurred. Repeat: No one says he entered the house.
Gilleon is not a rookie at civil suits. Some months ago he filed a lawsuit against the self-acknowledged gay chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party alleging he raped a young man who was romantically involved with the chairman for months. The District Attorney did not file charges.
The fact is that the District Attorney does not and should not charge anyone with any crime if a jury will have any “reasonable doubt” as to guilt.
Way back in the 1960s, one of my first interviews for a newspaper was with longtime San Diego District Attorney Don Keller. He stated that he had a 95% conviction rate.
That overwhelmed me until I discovered that “reasonable doubt” was the red line that guided his prosecutions.
“Reasonable doubt” trumps everything in a criminal case.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine veteran, political consultant, prolific author and host of the Contreras Report on YouTube and ROKU.