Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 49 / 7 December 2017
 

SF DA honors women who helped in sexual assault prosecution

Sabrina Espino and Grace Golding. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Sabrina Espino and Grace Golding. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón recently honored a woman who said she was sexually assaulted, along with the woman’s partner, for their assistance in the prosecution of the man accused of the crime.

Grace Golding, 30, and Sabrina Espino, 37, received the recognition as part of the Survivors and Champions Awards ceremony Friday, April 24 at the Hall of Justice.

Gascón called the women “a very inspirational couple” who’d helped with “a very difficult case.”

Arthur Ray Salinas was charged with two counts of sexual assault in the alleged 2013 incident. Details of what had happened weren’t offered Friday.

Jurors eventually acquitted Salinas of one of the charges and hung on the other, with all but one of the jurors thinking he was guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison for failing to register as a sex offender for a previous offense, according to Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt.

Despite the mixed results, which weren’t mentioned at the ceremony, Golding seemed pleased.

She told the DA’s staff and others gathered, “It’s incredible to be alive.”

Espino told the crowd that in her past experience, “you guys were the enemies.” But since going through the criminal justice process this time, her view has changed.

“People in the county are not the enemy,” she said.

After the event, Golding said, “I had plenty of support, and that’s really what made it easier to go through with [the trial] and stand up for myself.”

“It’s been a long journey,” she said, and there had been “lots of days when I didn’t want to wake up,” but people including Giles Feinberg, the DA’s victim/witness advocate who assisted her and Espino, Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai, who prosecuted the case, had helped comfort her.

Espino said, “It was important for Grace to know her story was believed. … As a lesbian, people don’t believe your story.”

Feinberg told those gathered Friday that the women “showed so much bravery,” and the case had been “an inspiration for me.” He said they were “becoming a voice” for other victims and survivors.

Talai said thanks to Golding and Espino, “there will never be another victim to this man,” and the women’s courage ensures Salinas “will die in prison.”

The women’s bravery “affected me both professionally and personally,” he said.

In an interview later Friday, Quandt said Salinas had failed to register as a sex offender after he moved to California to be near his family. Salinas’ options were limited because of the distance registrants have to maintain from schools and parks, Quandt said.

The failure to register had been “a throw away charge” that the DA’s office had “tacked on,” Quandt said, and “what really counted was whether he committed sexual assault,” which jurors didn’t convict him on.

Quandt expressed many problems with Golding. Among other things, he said, “We had video evidence that contradicted her testimony, and there was no DNA or scientific evidence to support her testimony.” He added, “The one independent witness was a store clerk in a corner store who also contradicted her testimony.”

Quandt said the case “will stick with me for a long time. It really bothers me.”

Salinas was 57 when he was charged in February 2013. Golding and Espino lived in San Francisco at the time but now live in San Jose.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 29, 2015 @ 3:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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