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
Michael Goulding/THE ORANGE
COUNTY REGISTERIt took just two weeks of confinement, but Gregory Haidl—Orange County's most infamous rape defendant—proved he can find trouble even in a tiny 12-foot-by-six-foot jail cell. On Dec. 4, Haidl, the 19-year-old son of a wealthy Newport Beach businessman who served until recently as an assistant sheriff, threw a wild tantrum that ended when a deputy shot him with a high-voltage Taser gun.
Jail isn't the best place to throw a fit, but nobody's accused Haidl of being a genius. He is, after all, the gentleman who, in 2002, videotaped himself and two buddies allegedly raping and molesting an unconscious minor, employing a Snapple bottle, juice can, lit cigarette and pool stick. After proudly screening his performance for friends, Haidl lost the tape. It eventually found its way to police, who originally thought they'd discovered a bizarre case of necrophilia. It didn't take long for authorities to realize that Haidl likes his girls not only alive but preferably before they've received their first driver's license.
Locked in Cell 13 of the county jail's mental-health ward, Haidl no longer has access to minors, illegal narcotics, booze or—courtesy of doting parents—new luxury cars and wads of cash. He's incarcerated until his gang-rape retrial next year after repeatedly violating Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno's bail conditions. In addition to the first rape charge, officials have tied Haidl to the statutory rape of another minor, vandalism, trespassing and a series of drug- and alcohol-related incidents. Briseno's patience ended last month after Haidl drank alcohol, swallowed powerful painkillers and crashed his 2005 Scion into oncoming traffic while searching for more illegal drugs in Santa Ana. He blamed his intoxicated appearance on "spicy Indian food."
Fast forward to Dec. 4. It's jail policy that inmates cannot trade goods. Despite this rule, Haidl handed a Snickers candy bar to accused child rapist and murderer Alejandro Avila, who occupies an adjoining cell. Deputies confiscated the candy and reprimanded Haidl for violating rules. In response, law enforcement sources told the Weekly, Haidl "went berserk" in his cell.
A videotape of the incident captured Haidl slamming his body against the cell wall, banging his fists against a window and wrapping a bed sheet around his neck. Deputies, who monitor Haidl and Avila around the clock for safety reasons, quickly subdued Haidl by firing a non-lethal Taser gun at his chest. They escorted him out of his cell in a straitjacket and placed him temporarily in the jail infirmary. He apparently wasn't injured, although Sheriff's spokesman Jon Fleischman said medical privacy laws prevented him from discussing or even confirming the incident.
What's most shocking about the Taser incident isn't that it happened but that Haidl's usually vocal nine-member legal defense team was silent for five days. Only after details were leaked to the media by law enforcement did defense lawyer Peter Scalisi announce his alarm. He then portrayed Haidl as a victim of "excessive force." He also told reporters that his client wrapped the bedsheet around his neck only as a reasonable protest to sanctions issued by the deputies. Another Haidl representative said deputies had tricked Haidl, who was unaware he couldn't give gifts to other inmates.
In truth, the Haidl family and lawyers have been plotting ways to free Greg before Christmas. They are expected to file a motion arguing that their client isn't safe in the Orange County jail and should be relocated to a private mental facility. A representative of the District Attorney's office said prosecutors will vigorously oppose such a motion, claiming that Haidl "obviously shouldn't be free to roam."
This latest event won't help the defense cause. Courthouse observers believe the chances of a Haidl victory are slim. Now more than ever, Judge Briseno can't ignore the painfully obvious: Whether it's underage sex, drugs, vandalism or even something as minor as passing a Snickers bar in jail, Greg Haidl follows his own set of rules.