The pre-trial conference of John Swaim, the California Highway Patrol lieutenant accused of sexual misconduct against a minor, was continued for Monday at which date the judge could rule if the defense attorney will remain on the case.
“They are trying to get me off the case,” defense attorney Bob Espinosa said referring to the prosecution. Espinosa will “fight to stay,” he said, but didn’t comment on why the prosecution is trying to remove him.
“We believe we have a conflict of interest,” deputy Imperial County District Attorney Heather Trapnell, who refrained from providing further details.
Swaim, who worked at the Winterhaven Highway Patrol station, is accused of one count of a lewd act upon a child and a count of oral copulation of a person under 14, according Imperial County court documents. He also faces two similar counts with regards of another minor, the same documents note.
But court documents also note that Espinosa is the godfather of the second victim and has been in contact with the first victim in “various social gatherings.”
The prosecution alleges that Espinosa met with both victims before they reported Swaim to the authorities, according to court documents.
One of the victims has so far recanted her initial report and claimed it as fabricated, the court documentation states.
The alleged meeting makes Espinosa a potential witness for the prosecution and the relationship with the victims raise a conflict of interest, according to court documents.
It is unknown how long the court will take to decide on the matter, Trapnell said.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org