A Troubled Rape Case 

The high-profile rape charges against Deputy District Attorney Michael Gressett are tainted by questionable facts, unorthodox prosecutorial conduct, and the unmistakable whiff of politics.

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Gressett then removed a handgun from a bedside drawer, pressed the muzzle to the back of her head, and continued to sodomize her, Jane Doe said. Gressett reached into the same nightstand for a set of handcuffs, which he used to cuff her ankle to her wrist. Leaving her on the bed, Jane Doe said Gressett left the bedroom and returned with a glass filled with ice cubes and an ice pick. Gressett then used the ice pick's handle to insert the ice into her vagina and anus before sodomizing her again. At one point, Doe said, she heard a garage door open and called out for help, but Gressett told her to "shut the fuck up."

In her statement, Jane Doe said the rape was so violent that there were significant smears of blood and feces on the sheets. Gressett eventually led her to the shower, she claimed, where he forced her to orally copulate him, raped her again, and ejaculated on her face, chest and neck. During the ride back to the office, Doe said, Gressett talked about killing her with the ice pick and then having sex with her still-warm corpse.

Jane Doe said in her statements that when she returned to work after the assault she was limping, disheveled, and bleeding from her rectum. But she did not seek medical attention or notify either the police or her bosses. Instead, about fifteen minutes after the alleged attack, she went shopping with DA Investigator Shawn Pate at the Martinez farmers market. Pate has since told investigators that he noticed nothing wrong with her.

Other than calling a friend, Jane Doe did not contact any authorities until four days later on May 12, according to the prosecution's investigation notes.

Jane Doe made two official statements to investigators, one on September 26, 2008 and another on November 5, 2008. In the second statement, numerous facts changed or were explained differently than in the first statement. For instance, the two statements contradicted one another about whether the ice pick came into play before the gun, whether she was handcuffed before or after she took a shower, and whether Gressett ejaculated on her face or her back.

Of course, it's not unusual for rape victims to experience post-traumatic stress disorder that makes it difficult to remember details of an assault, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. But Jane Doe's testimony to investigators also differed in several regards that were unrelated to the alleged assault.

In her initial statement, she told investigators that she did not participate at all in anal sex. She later said she had experimented in high school and college. Her coyness about the subject surprised some co-workers who are aware of her official statements because they knew Jane Doe as a member in good standing of their office's Anal Club. In fact, Deputy District Attorney Karen Zelis told investigators that most conversations about anal sex began with Jane Doe starting them. Jane Doe told Deputy DA Johanna Schonfield that she was such an enthusiast she had used a strap-on dildo to anally penetrate at least one of her sex partners, according to investigation notes.

Once the charges became public, other parts of Doe's story changed as she retold it to co-workers and investigators. For instance, Deputy District Attorney Theresa McLaughlin told investigators that one day Jane Doe came into her office crying and confided that she had sustained a severed ovary during the assault and would not be able to have children. Deputy DA Melissa Smith told investigators that Jane Doe told her a similar story, although in that account Doe also claimed that she had suffered a substantial jaw injury and so much bruising that she looked as though she had been in a car accident.

But Gressett's attorneys say they have subpoenaed Jane Doe's medical records from January 2005 to October 2008 and that those from after the alleged rape do not support any of her claims. There is no scarring from the alleged assault nor does she show any damage whatsoever to her reproductive system. Jane Doe was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, a thinning of the bladder wall, which is sometimes caused by trauma, but defense attorneys say her medical records show the condition was pre-existing. And there is no known evidence than anyone else observed the bruises she claimed to have suffered, according to the prosecution's investigation notes.

Another area in which Jane Doe's story has changed significantly involves a previous sexual encounter between her and Gressett five days prior to the alleged assault. Jane Doe told Deputy DA Diana Weiss that she and Gressett had rough sex at her San Francisco apartment after a lunch date at Caffe Sport, according to the prosecution's investigation notes. Weiss said that Jane Doe claimed that Gressett had choked her so hard that she had bruises on her neck. But in her two statements to investigators, Doe said she did not have sex with Gressett on that occasion because he could not maintain an erection, although she hedged by saying she tried to orally stimulate him and that there may have been some minor vaginal penetration. And again, Gressett's attorneys say there is no corroborating witness for the bruises on her neck.

The final facts that seem at odds with the official narrative concern the ongoing contact between the suspect and victim after the alleged assault. In her November 5 statement to investigators, Jane Doe admitted that she continued to send text messages to Gressett for at least three days after the May 8 assault. The content of those messages are no longer available, but Jane Doe told investigators that two days after the assault she sent Gressett a pornographic picture of a woman who had a pair of testicles resting on the bridge of her nose, a sexual act known as "teabagging," along with the message "Tag you're it." A few minutes later, she said she sent the same picture to her brother.

Jane Doe later told investigators that she sent Gressett the photo in order to lull him into a false sense of security so that she and her sister could murder him.

For his part, Gressett denies there was any blood or feces on his bed sheets or that he ever talked about killing Doe with the ice pick and abusing her dead corpse. But he doesn't deny the sex acts occurred, except in one critical detail. He claims that every act that took place during that lunch break in his condominium was consensual.

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