MERCED AREA CHP OFFICER ACCUSED OF CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT STILL ON-DUTY – QUESTIONS ARISE REGARDING DA’S OFFICE ATTEMPT TO KEEP CASE FROM PUBLIC

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MERCED, CA – Gilbert Gutierrez, a 38-year-old California Highway Patrol officer who is alleged to have sexually molested a 10-year-old, appeared in front of Judge Hansen this Saturday for a trial setting conference. A trial setting conference is where the parties involved try to resolve the case without going to trial. The parties have the chance to meet with judges to discuss the dispute and get their opinions.

Gutierrez entered a not guilty plea to two felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14-years-old during his arraignment on February 19th. He was indicted by a grand jury hearing in January.

Merced County News received information in February which pointed to the 10-year-old victim, who accused Gutierrez of pulling the her pants down and touching her inappropriately, as being related to a Merced PD officer. We have requested either a yes or no answer from Chief Norman Andrade, but he has not to addressed the allegation.

During the brief Friday morning court hearing, Defense attorney Brian Andritch told the court of his plans to file a motion to dismiss the case, though no dismissal has been filed as of this writing. Judge Hansen set an April 18 court hearing to address the motion.

It is alleged that CHP Officer Gutierrez and his family were hosting a slumber party on July 21, according to law enforcement reports, and there were about two dozen more people in attendance, including children. Gutierrez confirmed that he had drunk heavily that night which made him sick.

Sometime during that night, Gutierrez walked into the room where several children were in bed. The 10_year-old girl then alleges that Officer Gutierrez attempted to pull her pants down twice and touched her inappropriately. Officer Gutierrez has denied touching the victim in any inappropriate way, according to reports, Although he stated that he was in the room where the children were sleeping, he states that he was playing video games with a headset on.  According to the reports Officer Gutierrez “admitted that he put himself in a bad situation by drinking and being in (the) bedroom that night.”

DA Larry Morse with his staff

DA Larry Morse with his staff

The Merced County District Attorney decided to keep the case away from the public by presenting it to a grand jury, which meets behind closed doors and away from the public. Luckily, the Merced County Grand Jury understands how broken the Merced County DA’s office is and indicted Mr Gutierrez to face prosecution in a public court.

This ridiculous attempt was most clear when the District Attorney’s Office claimed that they wanted to avoid having the victim testify about the case in public. But the law is quite clear when it comes to child victim’s and child witness’ rights. Something our District Attorney seems to forget about based on his actions in other rape cases and the treatment of those many victims who have been left without justice. In California, a child victim does not have to testify during a preliminary hearing and her statement can be read in open court and on the record by an investigator. And if we are paying Merced County DA Larry Morse over $300,000 a year, pay for all of his membership fees to various groups and seminars that are supposed to be teaching him these laws, then where is all of our money going if he does not know a simple legal fact about protecting child victim’s  and child witness’ rights?

Officer Gutierrez, who is now free on bail, has been with the CHP office for six years, Officer Onsurez said to MCNTV News, and has been with the Merced Area CHP since 2013. Currently Officer Gutierrez is still on-duty with the Merced Area CHP, though his duties are limited to administrative areas as the department awaits the outcome of the pending case.

 

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