San Francisco, CA – Justin Desmangles, a member of the North Beach literary community, was acquitted yesterday of rape, attempted sodomy by force, and assault with a deadly weapon. The four-week trial took place before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jerome Benson.
Desmangles, who once hosted jazz and literary radio shows on local station KPOO, published several articles on jazz music and worked at Smoke Signals newsstand on Polk Street. He made a name for himself in the North Beach literary scene by organizing readings in the City Lights Bookstore.
In February 2007, Desmangles engaged in sexual intercourse with a woman, who later told authorities she was raped. At trial, the 37-year-old Desmangles took the stand in his defense and said he had consensual sex with the complainant. According to Desmangles, the alleged victim had asked him to choke her in the past during intercourse and he had engaged in erotic asphyxiation with the complainant prior to the incident. Desmangles explained that during the incident in question, he placed an extension cord around the complainant’s neck after they agreed on a safety word that she could use to stop intercourse at any time.
According to Desmangles’ attorney, Public Defender Sangeeta Sinha, “I am grateful that the jury reached the right verdict. He was innocent. He never forced the complainant to commit any act against her will. It came down to a credibility contest between my client and the accuser and her story was not believable.” Sinha also noted that Desmangles had no prior record.]
A number of local notables testified at trial, including former District 5 Supervisor and attorney Matt Gonzalez, California Poet Laureate Albert Young and San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman.
The mission of the Public Defender’s office is to provide vigorous, effective, competent and ethical legal representation to persons who are accused of crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney. Established in 1921, the San Francisco Public Defender has a long, proud history of providing top-notch representation to its clients, and championing programs that help people turn their lives around.