By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Embattled Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo is no longer welcome at the county’s crisis center for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and elder abuse.
After attending a committee meeting at the Family Justice Center Wednesday, Carrillo received notice from District Attorney Jill Ravitch that he could not return to the county-owned facility.
“I contacted him afterward and told him he can’t come to the Family Justice Center,” Ravitch said. “We’re going to have to move committee meetings off-site.”
Carrillo, 32, who is awaiting possible criminal charges from his July arrest outside a Santa Rosa woman’s home, said Ravitch made him aware of a “concern that was raised” after they both went to the justice center to attend an executive committee meeting of Upstream Investments, a county initiative.
But the 5th District supervisor said it was his decision to forego future visits to the facility. He said he did not want to “interrupt the wonderful work” of the center.
“I didn’t need to be told,” Carrillo said Wednesday. “As soon as the DA made me aware of the concern, I decided on my own it was better to wait until after the pending issue.”
Carrillo is due back in court Oct. 11 to see if a special prosecutor for the state Attorney General will bring formal charges against him. He was arrested in the wee hours of July 13, clad only in socks and underwear, after a neighbor reported someone outside her house.
Police said they believed Carrillo intended to commit a sexual assault, citing a torn screen on the woman’s bedroom window. He was booked on suspicion of prowling and burglary.
Carrillo checked into an alcohol rehabilitation facility after posting bail, and remained there for five weeks. He apologized at his return to the Board of Supervisors last month and admitted problems with binge drinking.
It was his second arrest in a year. Carrillo was picked up by police after a fight outside a San Diego nightclub Sept. 3, 2012, but no charges were filed.
Since his latest arrest, critics have called for Carrillo to resign. Carrillo, who was re-elected to a second four-year term last year, said he has no plans to step down.
Like most elected officials, Carrillo sits on a number of community boards that meet regularly. He is on the executive committee of Upstream Investments, which seeks to eradicate poverty with early intervention programs.
The committee, which includes Ravitch, Carrillo and several county managers, meets eight times a year inside the Family Justice Center on Mendocino Avenue.
The Family Justice Center, run by the district attorney, is a clearinghouse for services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and elder abuse. It also houses meeting rooms that are separate from victim services.
Wednesday’s meeting ran from from 9 to 10 a.m. Committee members, including Carrillo, were escorted into the building through security doors and gathered in a conference room to discuss a future report to the Board of Supervisors.
No one at the meeting sounded any alarm about Carrillo’s presence, said Megan Sirna, a Human Services Department analyst who also was at the meeting.
But Family Justice Center employees spotted him and complained his presence wasn’t appropriate at a facility that serves as a sanctuary for many women victims of sexual assault, according to a source who asked not to be identified.
After the meeting, Ravitch contacted Carrillo and explained that he couldn’t come back to the center, she said. Ravitch would not say what prompted the move or if it was linked to complaints.
The center does not have a specific policy prohibiting people from attending public meetings in the facility if they have criminal charges pending, Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said. Policies mirror those of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, she said.
However, access is strictly regulated and members of the public are kept apart from victims, Cook said.
Supervisor Shirlee Zane said it is standard practice to establish boundaries between victims and suspects. In Carrillo’s case, she pointed out that a judge has ordered him to remain 100 feet from the alleged victim. Whether or not the woman had ever been to the center for services was confidential, she said.
Nonetheless, word of Carrillo’s visit spread to the woman, who was outraged, said her lawyer, Rosanne Darling.
Darling said she was hired to enforce the woman’s rights under Marsy’s Law, adopted by the state Legislature in 2008, giving her client rights in the judicial process including protection from any defendant.
Darling said victims need to feel confident they won’t walk into the Family Justice Center lobby and run into a suspected criminal.
“She was pretty devastated to hear that,” said Darling, a former Sonoma County prosecutor who left for private practice this summer. “There’s an element of common sense that seems to be missing here.”