By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Through all of this, there's never been a hint of regret from Haidl. His all-male legal team insists the sex was harmless fun with a poor, "promiscuous" San Bernardino County girl lucky to be in the company of a rich Newport Beach boy like Haidl. They allege the girl had dreams of becoming a porn star.
Not as visually shocking as the sex DVD, the second video—now a critical piece of evidence in a grand jury corruption investigation—caught Haidl in another compromising position last October. Out of jail on $100,000 bail and the promise he'd stay clean until his March rape trial, Haidl was illegally skateboarding in a San Clemente office park. Deputies showed up, their cruiser-mounted video camera rolling. They found Haidl and two other kids standing behind a late-model Chevrolet Tahoe. They also found marijuana and firmly believed the three were stoned.
Most people caught with illegal drugs, high and already on felony bail, would know they were in serious trouble. Most people don't have a powerful cop as a dad. After deputies on the scene telephoned Assistant Sheriff Haidl for advice, young Haidl escaped without citation or arrest and the incident was falsely reported on public records as nothing more than a routine "traffic stop."
Haidl's legal "dream team," as they've reportedly called themselves, claims the pot incident and the resulting grand jury investigation into the cover-up is merely another setup.
"Anyone who views that entire tape would see that Greg Haidl is absolutely, unequivocally innocent of any wrongdoing," Haidl PR consultant Tori Richards told Registerreporters Bill Rams and Larry Welborn after KCBS-TV aired brief portions of the 50-minute video in late December. "He did not smoke or possess marijuana."
When she worked as spokeswoman for the OC District Attorney's office, Richards often struggled with the truth. Her battle continues. I repeatedly reviewed the entire video over a period of several weeks, and found the following facts:
> Sheriff's Deputy J. Roche discovered a bag of marijuana next to Haidl's keys, wallet, cigarettes, lighter and tea bottle, and later told Haidl he had a "deer-in-the-headlights" gaze.
> Haidl informed deputies that his father is their boss, and said, "I'm sure you're aware of my situation," apparently referring to his rape-case bail.
> When Roche originally asked who owned the pot, nobody confessed, and Haidl—arms outstretched in a pleading manner—turned to his companions and said, "Dudes, it can't be my dope! I'm out on bail."
> After the deputy left the teens alone for a couple of minutes, Haidl's 16-year-old companion changed his story and said the pot was his. Roche replied, "I don't believe you at all. It doesn't make any sense for your marijuana to be hanging out with [Haidl's] tea and cigarettes."
> Haidl told Roche he hadn't smoked marijuana in "over a year," but the deputy wasn't convinced. "Look at your eyes, Gregory," he said. "They're all bloodshot and watery." Haidl blamed his intoxicated look on "skateboarding for an hour and a half."
> After Roche said he could fingerprint the baggie of marijuana and conduct a blood test, Haidl began whimpering and asked, "What are my options?" The deputy told him: "Why don't you just tell me the truth?"
> Also during the exchange, Haidl said, "It's not my dope, sir." "Then whose is it?" asked the deputy. "I have no clue, sir."
> About 35 minutes into the incident, as Roche interrogated the other teens, Haidl secretly opened his cell phone. Sitting in the back of the SUV, apparently unaware the police camera was focused on him, he talked to someone for about 40 seconds and then quickly dropped the phone.
> Minutes later, the incident ends with Roche telling Haidl that his dad wanted him taken home.
A Weeklyinspection of sheriff's department telephone records shows that a Sgt. Downing, who was at the scene, called Assistant Sheriff Haidl during the bust. Afterwards, deputies didn't fingerprint the dope bag, take blood or write any citations. The official report of the incident failed to reveal any incriminating evidence against the teenager. If they'd determined the pot was Haidl's, a judge could have tossed him into jail. Instead, a deputy chauffeured Haidl home.
Law enforcement agencies are quasi-military and officers almost always remain silent about internal corruption. But the Haidl cases struck a nerve in some conscientious members of the Sheriff's Department. Without their leaks, the special favors would have remained a secret.
"There is a sense that the Haidls think they are above the law," said one officer. "We're hoping the grand jury does its job and has the courage to hold people accountable for their conduct."
For the Haidl defense team, the leaks are further evidence of government misconduct, of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' desire to offer up their client as a "sacrificial lamb" in his political rehabilitation. Haidl isn't "Manson, Dahmer or Kraft"—three serial killers—the defense has told Judge Briseno. "So what did he do that justifies the draconian treatment dispensed by the district attorney?"
DA spokeswoman Susan Schroeder has an answer. "He helped rape and then molest a clearly unconscious minor," she said. "But you don't have to ask me. It was Judge Everett Dickey who saw the DVD during the arraignment and said the girl was treated like a piece of meat."