COURT WATCH: Jury Finds Mentally Ill Man Not Guilty of Sexual Assault Charge in Jail

San Francisco Hall of Justice – Photo by David M. Greenwald

By Landon C. Torres

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – An accused was found not guilty of sexual battery Sept. 29 after a jury verdict here in San Francisco County Superior Court.

The trial began with opening arguments Sept. 25 for the accused, charged with sexual battery for allegedly assaulting one of the clinical behavioral specialists while in custody at San Bruno Jail. The court was informed the accused has had a history of mental disability and incarceration.

Deputy District Attorney Tanisha Gooch argued the accused was not complying with medical recommendations and went after the victim to touch her breast while she was attempting to leave.

The defense argued the accused did not have the intent to touch the victim sexually, he had been showing psychiatric symptomatology for weeks before the incident and his actions were the result of poor treatment and not being on medication.

DDA Gooch explained that on the day of the incident, the victim was checking in with her clients in POD 3B at San Bruno Jail, that the victim works in Psychiatric Behavioral Services as a clinical behavioral specialist.

DDA Gooch said the victim’s job is to manage referrals and see if they are a “good fit for the program,” and added the victim has worked with jail behavioral therapy for seven years providing support for her clients.

Gooch noted, “Ms. T was meeting with the accused weekly,” adding that is more frequent than more stable inmates with whom she will meet on a monthly basis.

On the day of the incident, Gooch continued, the victim said hi to the accused and noticed he wasn’t mentally present, explaining, “He was not complying with medical recommendations for weeks,” against the victim’s medical advice.

As the victim was exiting POD 3B, the accused—said the prosecution—ran up from his seat toward her, as her back was facing him, and grabbed her under her shirt and bra. She collapsed on the floor and guards immediately came running after her. According to the victim, “It all happened so fast.”

Gooch showed security footage of the incident to the jurors, which shows the accused lunging toward the victim, both collapsing, and guards immediately rushing toward the scene.

“This is also not the first time the accused has sexually assaulted a woman,” added the prosecution, noting that in 2016 the accused was seen with his arm between a woman’s legs, holding her two feet in the air.

But then defense attorney Jack Lamar provided the jurors context for the actions of the accused, asking: “Why are we here?”

 Lamar said to the jury that the accused’s “brain works differently,” adding some of the client’s instability is attributed to his experience in ROTC and a traumatic brain injury he suffered from his time with ROTC.

Lamar argued to the jury, “The accused did not have the intent of touching her sexually, and did not say anything sexually. You were only shown a portion of the security footage,” stating if the jury saw the full 40 minutes, they would see that the accused was staring at the door the entire time and his focus was not on the victim.

DPD Lamar acknowledged this was a traumatic experience for the victim. He also argued that this client was faced with the wrong charge, and it should not fall under sexual battery.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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