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
Courtesy pool photographer/
Orange County RegisterAfter three years of emotional innocent pleas, two ugly jury trials, glowing national TV profiles and a multimillion dollar defense effort to smear the rape victim, an incarcerated Gregory Scott Haidl has finally expressed remorse for the crime, according to courthouse sources.
Prosecutor Chuck Middleton won convictions in March against Haidl and his two co-defendants, Keith Spann and Kyle Nachreiner, for the July 2002 videotaped gang rape of an unconscious minor on a pool table at a Newport Beach high school party. For more than three years, the defense had steadfastly maintained that the 16-year-old girl had raped the older defendants after they gave her beer, marijuana and liquor. The vigorous defense, led by Irvine-based lawyer Joseph G. Cavallo, won a deadlock in the first trial.
But Haidl's latest disclosure to a probation officer broke an unwritten pact between the defendants to present a united front against the girl and prosecutors. It also comes as Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseño contemplates a defense plea for leniency. Convicted as adults though they were only 17 during the rape, each defendant faces anywhere from probation to more than a decade in prison unless Briseño transfers the case on Sept. 30 to juvenile court for sentencing. Juvenile convicts are usually sent to the California Youth Authority.
"Haidl clearly is hoping the judge goes soft on him," said a source close to the case.
It's impossible to guess what punishment Briseño, who is generally considered a tough sentencing judge, will dispense. On several occasions during the two trials he sternly lectured the defense team, reminding them that it was their clients' outrageous conduct that launched the case. But he did hint at a hearing this summer that he'd consider signs of remorse if expressed during probation department interviews. Despite the leak to the Weekly, details of the interviews are likely to remain sealed.
Veteran trial lawyer Al Stokke, who replaced Cavallo as Haidl's lawyer after the convictions, could not be reached for comment. But if Stokke is unsuccessful in getting the case moved to juvenile court at the next hearing, Briseño is expected to set a sentencing date for late November.
Haidl has been locked in county jail since last November, after he repeatedly violated the conditions of his bail. Nachreiner and Spann were placed in custody immediately after the guilty verdicts were announced.
See the complete Haidl Gang Rape Saga archives here