San Francisco, CA – On December 3, 2008, after two and a half hours of deliberation, Cristino Ortiz, 42, was acquitted of three counts of lewd acts on a child under 14.
Ortiz was the live-in boyfriend of the mother of two girls, aged 11 and 12. On the day of the incident in question, the girls were completing cleaning chores when the 11 year old became irritated at Ortiz because he wanted to cook in the kitchen. He hugged her and apparently that hug was misinterpreted. The child reported to her mother that Ortiz had touched her inappropriately. Her sister, who witnessed the incident, also told her mother that Ortiz had touched her inappropriately.
Ortiz consistently denied any impropriety when confronted by the mother and later by the police. He willingly went to the police station and made a video recorded statement in which he denied any wrongdoing. Based on the statements of the two girls, Ortiz was arrested and charged with one count of violating Penal Code Section 288(a), committing a lewd act on a child under 14, and two counts of violating Penal Code Section 288(b)(1), committing a lewd act on a child under 14 with force. If convicted, Ortiz faced life in prison.
At trial, Deputy Public Defender Stephen Rosen exposed the numerous contradictions of the girls’ statements, specifically the inconsistencies between what the girls said Ortiz did to them and what they claimed to have seen him do to each other. After a trial that took nearly three and a half weeks to complete, the jury acquitted Ortiz of all counts in two and a half hours.
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.