The author of a Santa Clara political blog, Robert Haugh, 39, was charged this month with a sex crime involving a minor. He pled not guilty at his arraignment on Feb. 8 and is currently free on a $50,000 bond. The trial is scheduled for March. Haugh has no prior criminal record.
Santa Clara police arrested Haugh in November, less than a month after the Santa Clara Police Association PAC prominently featured the blogger’s commentary in campaign mailers attacking candidates opposed by Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
Trigger Warning: sexual assault
On Nov. 19, 2020, Haugh turned himself into the Santa Clara police after being advised that a Warrant had been issued for his arrest on Nov. 10, 2020 on the charge of “lewd conduct with a minor,” according to the Santa Clara Police Department arrest log.
Last August, Haugh was arrested on a different complaint, “sexual penetration with a foreign object.” He was released with no charges after the District Attorney found an “insufficiency of evidence” in the case. At that time, the DA requested additional information on the case, according to DA spokesman Sean Webby.
Haugh’s attorney, Charles Smith, told The Weekly back in August that the complaint was made by Haugh’s ex-wife in the course of a custody battle. As of publication time, Smith has not responded to The Weekly’s request for comment.
Haugh is currently charged under California Penal Code 288(a) — oral copulation with a minor — of “a lewd and lascivious act” on a five-year-old girl “with the intent of arousing, appealing to and gratifying the lust, passions, and sexual desire of the defendant and of the child.”
A conviction carries with it a three- to eight-year sentence and lifetime registration as a sex offender for at least 15 years and possibly life.
Although Haugh is only charged on one criminal count, prosecutors gave notice that they intend to “offer evidence of another sexual offense or offenses.”
They also gave notice that they intend to present expert testimony on Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) — a theory about children’s psychological responses to sexual abuse that can result in conflicting testimony.
There is controversy about the use of CSAAS testimony in sex abuse cases and it cannot be used as evidence in all states. Some states, like New Jersey, prohibit its use at all because of what critics say is an inherent implication of guilt.
Haugh is a former employee of The Weekly.
Since then, Haugh has worked for Diya TV USA, the school sports website Prep2Prep, tried his hand at being a wrestling promoter, took classes in early childhood education at a local community college and was briefly employed by two Bay Area daycare centers.
Haugh has been accused in the past of harassing behavior but has no criminal record. In 2015 his ex-wife’s grandmother requested an Elder Abuse restraining order against him, which she later dropped when her granddaughter separated from Haugh.
The Weekly has also been told of allegations that Haugh harassed a local public official, making repeated nuisance phone calls to their employer, claiming he was “checking references.”