Man Of The Year
Courtesy pool photographer
Michael Goulding /
The Orange County RegisterForty years ago, one historian noted, Orange County was largely recognized for "its fields of citrus fruit, avocados, walnuts, lima beans, sugar beets, strawberries and the like."
Today, that charming, bucolic impression has morphed into a single disturbing image: the who-me? baby face of Gregory Scott Haidl, wealthy accused rapist and confirmed delinquent.
Go to a grocery store, gas station, bar, coffeehouse, nail salon or toll booth almost anywhere in Southern California and people know his story: the son of an assistant sheriff who videotaped himself and his friends allegedly raping and molesting an unconscious girl during a July 2002 party. In Los Angeles recently, friends who usually avoid the news could tell me precisely what objects Haidl had inserted into the girl's orifices.
The Haidl saga isn't just a regional story. People across the nation—and in places as far away as Australia, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Brazil, England and the Caribbean—watch with interest. We know of at least two law-school classes on opposite sides of the world that have debated Haidl's attempts to manipulate the American criminal justice system.
But there would be no fascinating saga if Haidl wasn't so comically steadfast in shunning responsibility.
In no particular order, consider:
• When police recovered a videotape of the alleged rape and molestation of an unconscious minor on a pool table, Haidl first denied involvement even though he directed the action, owned the camera, appeared in the film, lived at the Newport Beach location caught on film and had exhibited the X-rated film for friends.
• When someone seeking to intimidate the alleged victim posted fliers around the girl's San Bernardino County neighborhood, Haidl denied any knowledge—even though the fliers were posted by his own private detectives and the number to call on the flier was his mother's.
• When it was revealed that a drunk Haidl and his two inebriated buddies had laughed as they shoved a Snapple bottle, juice can, lit cigarette and a pool cue into the unconscious girl's vagina and anus, Haidl declared they were satisfying the girl's desires.
• When police arrested Haidl, he claimed he was set up by a poor slut who was elated to be in his presence because his father was a powerful assistant sheriff and worth tens of millions of dollars.
• When prosecutors filed rape charges against Haidl and his two buddies, Haidl accused District Attorney Tony Rackauckas of inventing a crime to discredit the elder Haidl—even though he was a Rackauckas campaign contributor and a fellow high-ranking member of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
• When it was clear that police would not drop charges, Haidl declared that he, his two friends and the minor girl had been making a consensual necrophilia-themed sex film because the girl wanted to become a porn star and he had a love of filmmaking.
• When prosecutors introduced Haidl's homemade video as evidence of the alleged crimes, Haidl claimed that police had removed exonerating scenes showing the girl okaying the sex and the insertion of foreign objects.
• When the office of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer—no friend of Rackauckas'—called Haidl's videotaped conduct despicable and supported prosecution, Haidl accused reporters of forcing cops to pursue a groundless case.
• When Haidl thought he could shift responsibility to the other defendants, he said he was the only one who hadn't actually participated in the alleged rape, even though, to take but one example, he's the man who held the unconscious girl's anus open so that his pals could, as his lawyers described it, "massage" her with both ends of a pool cue.
• When asked by reporters for his explanation of his plight, Haidl blamed society, reporters, alcohol, the porn industry, police, prosecutors and the girl.
• When Haidl told CBS' 48 Hours the girl never said "no" during the sex, he forgot to mention he'd given her beer, marijuana and an eight-ounce shot of Bombay Gin or that she repeatedly described herself as dizzy and nauseous before passing out.
• When law-enforcement officials held press conferences to refute Haidl's fabrications and distortions in the media, Haidl—who hired a nine-member legal defense team, an army of private detectives, O.J. Simpson's jury consultant and a public-relations manager—complained the criminal-justice system was stacked against him.
• When it was revealed that Haidl's father sought to pay certain jurors after the deadlock, Haidl representatives explained the payments were for post-trial consulting services in anticipation of a retrial.
• When deputies found a bag of marijuana beside Haidl's wallet and keys during a San Clemente bust, Haidl—then free on bail set following the alleged videotape rape—turned to his friends and said, "Dudes, it can't be my dope!" A friend took responsibility.
• When deputies suspected Haidl and friends of trespassing and vandalism at an abandoned Laguna Niguel business, Haidl claimed he was innocently on his way to a college class.
• When police found a shirtless Haidl hiding in the bushes outside a San Clemente home and arrested him for the statutory rape of a second minor, Haidl claimed he had no way of knowing the girl was underaged and charged that officials were preventing him having a "normal dating life."
• When Haidl crashed his car into oncoming traffic in Santa Ana, he didn't tell police he'd been drinking alcohol and was high on illegal drugs or that he was on the way to see his drug dealer; he blamed "spicy Indian food" for his apparent intoxication.
• When Jane Doe, the first alleged rape victim, was arrested on drug-possession charges, Haidl declared the girl could not be trusted because she used narcotics.
• When Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseo grew tired of Haidl ignoring bail rules and prepared to toss the defendant in jail until his two upcoming rape trials, Haidl blamed prosecutors and the media for making him suicidal, a condition he unsuccessfully argued should prevent his lockup.
• When an incarcerated Haidl threw a tantrum in his mental-health-ward cell at the Orange County Jail and forced deputies to calm him with a Taser gun shot, Haidl blamed the incident on deputies who refused to comply with his demands.
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