In August of 2015, our client was 36 years old. He lived in Torrance and worked in Torrance just a few miles from his home. His job was tough and his wife worked, too, so they two often had to hire babysitters for their children, then one year old and four years old.
They often asked their cousin to help babysit and she was free. She was single and enjoyed spending time with our client’s young children.
One day, our client came home a bit late and his cousin was watching his two kids. Our client’s wife was at work.
According to our client’s cousin, our client approached his cousin, then 32, as she was facing the sink, washing dishes. He allegedly tried tickling her on her waist and she told our client quite firmly that she was not ticklish. She allegedly understood that he was flirting with her in a sexual way, so she was deliberate in telling him no.
Our client then came up behind her without her seeing him and pressed his body against hers from behind and reached around her to fondle her breasts.
There was no description of what happened next, but the cousin did not report this to the police or anyone. In fact, she babysat our client’s kids several more times over the next several months with no hesitation.
One day, however, our client’s mother announced that she was taking a vacation back to her homeland, India, and asked the cousin to safeguard her cash and jewelry while she was gone. There was approximately $35,000 in jewelry and another $15,000 in cash. The cousin agreed.
When the mom returned, she requested the return of her jewelry and cash, but the cousin refused. At the same time, she filed a report for sexual battery against our client with the Torrance Police.
The Torrance Police interviewed our client and he denied ever doing such a thing.
However, in January, 2016, a criminal case was filed against him for sexual battery, Penal Code § 243.4(e)(1), and simple battery, Penal Code § 242, both as misdemeanors.
Our client was never notified of this via letter or otherwise, although he lived just a mile from the Torrance courthouse and the Torrance Police Department. The Torrance Police Department even had his address because they had confirmed it over the phone when they interviewed him.
Three years and eight months later, in September of 2019, our client’s employer told our client that he had an outstanding bench warrant from the Torrance Courthouse and that if he did not take care of it, he would be fired. The client was shocked and confused.
The client called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill. The client explained what had happened, but he thought nothing came of it after he explained to the police how his cousin wanted to keep all of his mom’s jewelry and cash by making such a complaint to cause her mom shame and possibly drive her into seclusion, or guilt and thereby waive her claim to her property for her son’s behavior.
Greg listened to the client and explained the Sixth Amendment issue and how California cases have adjudicated such delays in prosecution.
Greg explained the U.S. Supreme Court case of Barker v. Wingo (1972) 407 U.S. 514 and how it was interpreted through Serna v. Superior Court, a 1985 California Supreme Court case at 40 Cal.3d 239, 707 P.2d 793, 219 Cal.Rptr. 420.
Greg then appeared with the client and had the bench warrant recalled, which took a gigantic burden off the client and his family.
Yet we still had to resolve the case, which Greg believed should be dismissed through a “Serna motion.” In the course of discovery, it was determined that the Torrance Police Department had destroyed the 911 call and the dispatch log for the case once each item fell outside their retention period. Our client also could not find his day planner from four years earlier, which might have refuted the victim’s claim that she was even babysitting at the client’s home that day.
Greg then prepared, filed and served the Serna motion in the Torrance court. It was served to the Torrance City Prosecutor, who filed an opposition.
The judge ruling on the motion granted the motion, which made our client extremely happy. The case was dismissed.
For more information about sexual battery and Serna motions, please click on the following articles: