State Attorney General Drops Charges Against CoCo Assistant DA

The state attorney general’s office has decided to not re-file rape charges against Deputy District Attorney Michael Gressett, thereby ending a nearly four-year scandal that brought down the bungling power structure that had run the Contra Costa County DA’s Office for decades, and which may end up costing county taxpayers millions of dollars.

The announcement wasn’t a big surprise, given that an independent arbiter ruled in September 2011 that the case had been muddied by politics and that Gressett should get his job back with full back pay for salary and benefits, and that later last year, a retired Santa Clara judge dismissed the thirteen-count felony indictment against Gressett. But while the attorney general’s decision to dismiss the indictment ended the criminal proceedings against Gresset, the legal proceedings may just be beginning.

The scandal erupted in 2008, when former DA Robert Kochly arrested Gressett, one of his most tenured and popular deputies, on allegations that he had raped junior deputy prosecutor Holly Harpham in his condominium during a lunch break. The lascivious details, which included a handgun, ice pick, ice cubes and handcuffs, made headlines throughout the Bay Area, and, at first blush, it appeared that an accomplished veteran prosecutor realy had gone dangerously off the rails. Gressett — who, ironically, worked in the DA’s sex crimes unit — never denied having kinky sex with Harpham, but always said that their encounter was consensual.

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