Now one should wonder if the charges against Johnny Pride were trumped up by a corrupt city council and police department. We will see.
Johnny Pride, a Santa Clarita City Council candidate and reality-show contestant who had been arrested for allegedy raping two 14-year-old girls, was released from custody Saturday because of “insufficient evidence,” authorities said.
The District Attorney’s Office rejected the case, but Los Angeles County sheriff’s officers plan to continue investigating in an effort to develop more evidence, according to Sgt. Dan Scott of the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau. Pride was released from custody at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Scott said.
“The investigation is ongoing, including further investigation into the processing of DNA evidence,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a written statement. Pride, 26, a self-described businessman, comedian, model and actor, was arrested in Valencia on Thursday with an accusation that he raped the two girls at his Valencia apartment after plying them with alcohol on Feb. 27.
Pride is one of 11 candidates in Santa Clarita’s April 13 election.
He has been a contestant on dating reality shows including Fox’s “The Battle of the Bods” and ABC’s “The Conveyor Belt of Love.”
Pride could not be reached for comment Saturday. But his father, Gerry Scarpitta, a teacher living in Yuma, Ariz., said the District Attorney’s Office rejection of the case is “proof that the city of Santa Clarita is as corrupt as I thought it was.”
“They’ve deliberately been harassing my son, but this time they attacked him with the full force of their authority,” said Scarpitta, 57.
“They did this unethical, immoral thing. What they did was just unconscionably wrong; it was an abuse of power. They had him arrested and I believe they knew all along they didn’t have sufficient evidence.”
Scarpitta accused officials of having his son arrested because he had challenged the “corrupt power structure” in Santa Clarita. The father said federal or state authorities should investigate the city because it is “out of control.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore declined to respond directly to Scarpitta’s accusations. But he said the girls came to the department, reported the alleged incident and the department investigated.
“We have a search warrant issued by a judge, signed by a judge and the district attorney said there was insufficient evidence,” Whitmore said. “So we would have no response to his accusations.”
However, Whitmore said sheriff’s officials are continuing the investigation and are awaiting the processing of DNA evidence.
“The interviews (with the girls) were quite extensive, their stories matched and when we served the search warrant, what they told us was all verified in the apartment itself,” Whitmore said. “Everything they told us was exactly the way it was, even down to some minor details. It was pretty complete, pretty exacting.”
District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said Saturday she did not immediately have more information on why prosecutors rejected the case.
Scarpitta said the arrest was the second in the city’s attempt to derail his son’s City Council bid.
Pride, a walk-on coach and substitute playground supervisor at Canyon High School for less than a month in 2008, was fired after an arrest for trespassing during a track meet at the high school, which he also attended as a student.
Scarpitta said he didn’t know if his son would sue for false arrest, but he said he’s “very displeased with the way they have treated my son.”
“He’s strong, he’s courageous, he’s generous, he’s kind, he’s concerned about people and interested in people. He wants to help. He founded a nonprofit organization and he has a very good heart. He’s really ready to help the community and this is the response he’s gotten.”