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No Peeking

Details and ramifications of Carrillo's not guilty verdict


HALL OF JUSTICE A jury found Supervisor Efren Carrillo not guilty of attempted peeking. - NICOLAS GRIZZLE
  • Nicolas Grizzle
  • HALL OF JUSTICE A jury found Supervisor Efren Carrillo not guilty of attempted peeking.

If Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo's misdemeanor peeking case has taught the public anything, it's that there's nothing illegal about a man showing up uninvited at a female neighbor's house at 3:30am in his underwear, hoping to have sex with her, ripping her bedroom window screen and sticking his hand inside, walking around her apartment to her back patio, returning to her front door 10 minutes later and announcing himself as a neighbor before leaving again and being apprehended by police who had been called by that same woman to look for a possible prowler—as long as he doesn't look inside the house.

Shortly after a jury could not reach a verdict Monday afternoon on the misdemeanor charge of peeking Monday afternoon, Carrillo was found not guilty on the lesser charge of attempted peeking.

After a drawn-out and much publicized case with more twists than a Cirque du Soleil show, Carrillo told reporters outside the courtroom, "I would like to move on and put this behind me."

He has good reason to want that, after taking the stand and describing himself as a "functioning alcoholic," and admitting that he hoped to have sex with his neighbor at 3:30am, after his girlfriend had dropped him off from Space XXV, a downtown Santa Rosa nightclub, less than two hours prior. The fallout has already begun.

His fellow supervisors have condemned his actions, and supervisor Shirlee Zane has called for his resignation. "Any man who treats a woman like an object has completely and utterly disqualified himself from leadership," she wrote on her Facebook page. "I have witnessed him do this stone sober, and confronted him. So let me be perfectly clear—resign, resign, resign, resign—and one more time for his victim: resign."

The public, too, has showed its overwhelming outrage on social media, demonstrating with a "Efren Carrillo Has Got to Go" rally in Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square scheduled for April 30. His political future, once on the fast track to higher office, is likely stunted. Despite all of this, Carrillo says he will not resign.


But if Carrillo were to resign, who would take his place? It would be someone appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, and if that happened before July, the position would then become open on the November ballot. Santa Rosa attorney and former U.S. Congressman Doug Bosco, a close friend of both Brown and Carrillo, and a principal owner of the Press Democrat, might have the governor's ear on this matter.

"It seems to be that if Bosco were going to make a recommendation to Jerry Brown, Lisa Carreño would be a possibility," says Alice Chan, a West County political activist who was a driving force behind the initial push for a recall against Carrillo. Carreño, a Santa Rosa attorney, is also on the Press Democrat's editorial board. Former supervisor Eric Koenigshofer has also been mentioned as a possibility, though progressives in the fifth district have said that he would not be their ideal replacement.

Chan says she is still in contact with the people working on a recall effort, but says, "I'd be very surprised if there were a recall now," citing the election year and funding issues. "I would be really, really surprised if he resigned," she adds, citing the two years left in his term. "I doubt very much that he'd ever be reelected."

Rosanne Darling, a former prosecutor who was representing the victim in the case, says her client was "disappointed" with the jury's decision. "She was up against not just the justice system, but the political machine of Sonoma County," she says. The victim, who was kept anonymous in this case, "has more than a host of civil options," which have a two-year statute of limitations.

"A 'not guilty' verdict does not mean innocent," says Darling.

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