Judge Barry LaBarbera ruled Friday that San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow can personally try a sexual assault case against a Cambria man.
Last month, attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu filed a motion that Dow should be disqualified from prosecuting the case because of a conflict of interest. In the motion, Funke-Bilu said Dow caved to political pressure placed on him by an alleged victim’s lawyer during the height of Dow’s recent reelection campaign.
Herbert Connor is charged with sexual battery, inflicting corporal injury and assault with intent to commit rape over an incident in which he allegedly forced himself on a 67-year-old woman, groped her and caused her to fall into a door jamb while she tried to escape. Connor and the woman previously had a sexual relationship, though there are conflicting accounts as to the nature of their encounters.
Though prosecutors had previously planned to drop the charges against Connor, in June, shortly following Dow’s reelection, he appeared in court to try a case for the first time during his tenure as district attorney. Sitting district attorneys very rarely personally try cases in San Luis Obispo County.
Both Dan Dow and the State Attorney General’s Office argued that the election was over by the time Dow took over the case, an argument LaBarbera appears to have agreed with.