DA Kochly responds to allegations of sex talk, denigration of victims among attorneys in his sex crimes unit

Today, I wrote a commentary on the ugly rape allegations involving former Contra Costa County prosecutor Michael Gressett and a younger and junior female colleague. My commentary focused less on the charges against Gressett, which is a whole discusion in of itself. It dealt mostly with assertions made by his 30-year-old colleague that the alleged assault occurred against the backdrop of a potentially disturbing workplace enviroment.

The San Francisco Chronicle paraphrases and quotes statements of the alleged victim— whose name is not being release and who is no longer employed in the District Attorney’s Office. In those statements, she contended that attorneys in the sex crimes unit enjoyed talk about sex toys and role-playing. As the Chronicle reports: “The sex crimes unit of the district attorney’s office, she recalled, was a highly sexualized place where she, Gressett and others bantered about rough sex and directed gallows humor toward the crime victims they represented.”

Later in the afternoon, I emailed District Attorney Robert Kochly, asking him about these allegations about inappropriate behavior among his colleagues. I also ask him what, if any actions, he has taken. He responded, and mentioned that, yes, one of the actions he took was to conduct sexual harassment and sensitivity training.
Here, first, is what I wrote to Kochly, and second, his response:

From me:

“Regardless of whether a crime can be proven against Mr. Gressett, I, and others, find it disturbing to learn about the supposed behavior of attorneys in your office, especially that vulnerable victims may have become the subjects of disparaging comments.

Do you have any comment to this? Have you taken any action to address the allegations of these behaviors? It seems like this is something the public has a right to know. “

Kochly’s response:

“While I would dispute the accuracy of the news article in question, insofar as it indicates that it was commonplace for attorneys to speak of sexual assault victims in a disparaging fashion, my office has conducted a very extensive administrative investigation into these matters.

We did, in fact, conduct mandatory sexual harassment/sensitivity training for all employees. We also took appropriate personnel actions as indicated by the results of our investigation. “

When Kochly mentions “appropriate personnel actions,” he could be referring to the fact, as reported in today’s Contra Costa Times, that Gressett, 52, was fired from his $140,000-a-year job. This information about his job status was reported by his attorneys today in court.

Gressett, a three-time candidate for district attorney, had been on paid administrative leave since his October arrest, and his termination was effective Friday.

“His attorneys said they were unsure what grounds were given for the firing but added that the 21-year prosecutor will appeal it,” the Times reported. “District Attorney Robert Kochly said Monday that he could not comment on a personnel matter.”

2 thoughts on “DA Kochly responds to allegations of sex talk, denigration of victims among attorneys in his sex crimes unit

  1. The firing should stand and the guy should thank his lucky stars the leave pay does not need to be repaid.

    He will continue to be a liability on his employer despite not performing the duties of his office honorably. Shame on him.


  2. The Times story also said that the DA has not explained why it took the office four months to report the woman's rape claim. That's still “unclear.” Why is it still unclear?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s