Deputy DA: ‘Found my place’ prosecuting sex crimes

Deputy District Attorney Stuart Scott walks outside the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill. Scott graduated Santa Clara Law School in 1992 and has been working as the DA for over 21 years. Scott will be receiving the Helping Hands Award from Community

In 21 years as a prosecutor in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Stuart Scott has convicted all kinds of offenders – from traffic scofflaws to brutal murderers – but his current post convicting child molesters, rapists and other sex offenders has its own rewards.
That work has earned him a number of honors and awards in recent months, on the eve of the June 3 election in which he is running for Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge.
“Gangs and sex cases, with regard to the victim impact, are very different,” Scott said. “I felt I found my place (prosecuting sex offenders). Child victims, a lot of times, won’t disclose, but it’s an injury those victims carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
Originally from Eureka in far northern California, Scott, 48, comes from a family of attorneys. His grandfather is a former elected DA of Humboldt County. His father has a private practice in the same county that he opened in 1963, and he’s “still going strong” at age 77. And his brother was a prosecutor.
Scott’s legal career began in the DA’s office as a clerk while still in law school at Santa Clara University. As a young clerk, Scott litigated about 100 traffic trials in San Jose courts. Since then, he has prosecuted South County gang crimes, trained younger deputy prosecutors, schooled police detectives in best practices for investigating gang cases and worked on the County’s Regional Auto Theft Task Force.
Since 2008, Scott has been in the DA’s Sexual Assault Unit, prosecuting cases – mostly in South County – that involve the most heinous allegations of child molestation and rape. He’s leading the prosecution of Morgan Hill resident Nicolas Lhermine, 21, the YMCA employee accused of sexually assaulting a number of young children who were in his care at a childcare program at Paradise Valley Elementary School in Morgan Hill.
Scott’s his work now is just as much about helping the victims as it is about convicting the perpetrators, he said.
Scott, a father of three and a volunteer youth sports coach, also commended the “perfect team” he works with, consisting not only of DA Jeff Rosen but also detectives from Morgan Hill and Gilroy, as well as victims’ advocates at Community Solutions.
“I’m just the closer,” he said. “I just come in and make sure the juries understand how important these cases are. It’s the most rewarding thing in my career, making sure these kids are safe.”
Of his recent awards, Scott said the 2014 Helping Hand award from Community Solutions is the “most special, because it’s about the kids and trying to get them to a place where they’re whole.”
Gilroy-based Community Solutions said they selected Scott because of the compassion he shows to the victims, according to Community Solutions Program Manager Erica Elliott. A large part of Scott’s work on these cases is working with victims to collect statements and other evidence for court – an often delicate process.
“He always works with the survivors and has always shown support to the family members to make the court system as easy as possible for the survivors of sexual assault,” Elliott said.
Rosen said Scott has been a “strong advocate” for victims in his 21 years as a Santa Clara County prosecutor.
“I have been impressed with his work on some of the most difficult cases this office handles – those in which women and children have been sexually abused,” Rosen said. 
Scott is also the 2014 recipient of the Morgan Hill Community Law Enforcement Foundation’s Public Safety Award, which will be presented in May at the Cops and Robbers Ball fundraiser.
“Stuart’s lifetime commitment and dedication to the safety of our community through his blue-collar, methodical prosecution of the violent criminals that prey on our citizens made Stuart the perfect choice for this year’s award,” said CLEF Past President and board member Craig Van Keulen.
Others have vivid memories of Scott’s work on gang crimes. Scott is proud of convictions of violent murderers like Outside Posse gang member Paul Zapata, who shot a 19-year-old man outside a convenience store in Gilroy in 2000.
In June, Scott will face at least one declared opponent – California Deputy Attorney General Ralph Sivilla – for a Superior Court judge’s seat. Scott has been endorsed by the Gilroy and Morgan Hill police officers associations.
Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, a veteran of the local department (but not a member of the POA), saw Scott’s skills firsthand as a detective in the Luis Bautista murder case in 2005, in which Anthony Frausto shot and killed the alleged rival gang member behind Tennant Station.
“His genuine compassion and empathy allows him the innate ability to put himself in the shoes of the victim or victim’s family, which I think provides him the motivation to seek justice for many who do not have the ability to seek it on their own,” Swing said.
Gilroy POA President John Ballard said Gilroy officers have had a “long-standing relationship” with Scott, investigating gang crimes and sexual assaults. The POA in December awarded Scott with their 2013 Recognition Award, which is presented annually to a citizen or public servant who goes “above and beyond” their required responsibilities. 
“He is an absolute hard worker, one of those guys who puts everything into a case,” Ballard said. “He fights hard for the victims, he is fabulous in jury trials. His work ethic is second to none.”
Stuart Scott
– Lives in South County with wife Lisa and their three children ages 9, 11, 13
– Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Westminster College, in Fulton, Mo. in 1988; from Santa Clara University Law School with a J.D. in 1992
– Enrolled in reserved officers training while an undergraduate and spent “a little time in active duty” at Fort Benning, Ga.
– 21-year veteran prosecutor with local DAs office
– Convicted more than 1,000 gang members, child molesters, rapists and other violent criminals; tried more than 100 jury trials
– Awarded with 2014 Public Safety Award by the Morgan Hill Community Law Enforcement Foundation; 2014 Helping Hand award by Community Solutions; 2013 Distinguished Award by the Gilroy Police Officers Association, among other honors
– Coaches youth soccer and basketball
– “Helping Hands, Healing Hearts,” 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 21 at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center. Details: (408) 846-4704.
– “Cops and Robbers Ball” fundraiser, 6 to 11 p.m. May 3 at the Morgan Hill CCC. Details: www.morganhillclef.org.

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