Public defender accuses East Bay prosecutor of racism for referencing alleged child molester’s ‘predatory behavior’

Public defender accuses East Bay prosecutor of racism for referencing alleged child molester’s ‘predatory behavior’

OAKLAND — For the second time since charges were filed last August, an East Bay public defender has tried and failed to get his client out of jail on pending charges that he sexually abused three girls and trafficked one of them.

This time, the attorney for 31-year-old Lennard Davis accused an Alameda County prosecutor of violating the state’s Racial Justice Act by repeatedly referring to Davis’ alleged “predatory behavior” at an earlier court hearing. Davis is charged with 14 felonies for allegedly sexually abusing three girls, aged 13-15, over a two-month period, filming some of the alleged abuse and coercing one of them to perform sex work for him.

At a September bail hearing, Deputy District Attorney Greg Boller argued successfully that Davis’ release from Santa Rita Jail would constitute a “very grave public safety threat” and accused him three times of “predatory behavior” in the filming of the girls, and for allegedly arranging to take them to his “new home” in Las Vegas.

In a subsequent motion, Deputy Public Defender Russell Mangan argued Boller’s remarks violated the Racial Justice Act because it was akin to calling Davis, who is Black, a predator.

“This language invokes stereotypes of Black men being animalistic, beast-like, and therefore non-human,” Mangan wrote. “This is precisely the kind of racial bias that the RJA seeks to remove from the courtroom.”

In his response, Boller outlined exactly what he meant by “predatory behavior,” writing that Davis allegedly approached the 13-year-old girl on her way home from school and offered to be her “sugar daddy,” later told her, “you’re a young b—-, I like them young,” and picked up the 14-and-15-year-old girls from a juvenile group home in another part of California. Davis allegedly “slapped, grabbed, threw, and strangled” one of the girls after she “did not make him food and wanted to leave his house,” causing her to lose consciousness, Boller wrote.

“Given the severity of the child molestation, human trafficking, assault, and child pornography allegations, the use of the term ‘predatory behavior’ was appropriate,” Boller wrote, adding he didn’t “make any argument suggesting an analogy to animals.”

At the earlier September hearing, Mangan argued that Davis was a “pillar of the community” and a popular local athlete who served as a mentor for others. Mangan also said in court that one of the girls claimed Davis recruited her from a babysitting ad but later changed their story.

Judge James Cramer denied the motion at a late December hearing, where Davis’ preliminary hearing date was set for Feb. 5. Cramer also denied an earlier motion that argued Davis was at risk of being harmed in the jail due to media coverage of his case. At that hearing, Cramer drew an analogy between Davis’ case and the Santa Clara County charges against Shannon O’Connor, a woman accused of throwing “teen sex parties” where she allegedly provided alcohol to minors and encouraged lewd behavior.

Like Davis, O’Connor has been denied pretrial release from jail.

“Most people abide by my orders, but when it’s a serious case like this and they’re incentivized to not come to court, they don’t want to go back into jail,” Cramer said. “On those cases when they cut off the electronic monitoring and they’re in the wind, all of sudden I’ve let a dangerous felon out, and I’m not going to take that risk here. The O’Connor case, I think, justifies no bail in this case.”