DA Dan Dow accused of politicizing decision to prosecute sex case

October 18, 2018

SLO District Attorney Dan Dow


Threatened with bad publicity just days before Election Day, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow politically commandeered a sexual assault case and became a soldier of the Me Too movement, a defense attorney alleged in a court motion this week. [Cal Coast Times]

According to a motion filed by attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, Dow caved to political pressure placed on him by an alleged victim’s lawyer during the height of Dow’s recent reelection campaign. That explains the odd move Dow made in June of appearing in a San Luis Obispo courtroom to personally try a 72-year-old Cambria man for an alleged sexual assault, Funke-Bilu alleges.

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.

On Monday, Funke-Bilu filed a motion to disqualify Dow as the prosecuting attorney in the case. Funke-Bilu’s motion alleges Dow, as well as the SLO County District Attorney’s Office, should be disqualified from prosecuting the case because of a conflict of interest.

Attached to the motion are letters sent to Dow by the alleged victim’s attorney expressing dissatisfaction with a decision made by the district attorney’s office to drop the charges against Connor because of doubts about the merits of the case. In a letter dated May 25, the alleged victim’s attorney Daniel O’Neill requested a meeting with Dow and stated, if the district attorney did not agree to the request, his client would announce publicly the DA’s decision not to prosecute the defendant.

“If we are unable to meet before early next week, my client has informed me she intends to publicize the decision not to prosecute Mr. Connor,” O’Neill stated in the letter to Dow.

Dow met with the alleged victim’s lawyers on June 1, four days before Election Day, according to emails between the district attorney and Funke-Bilu.

In Funke-Bilu’s motion to have Dow and the district attorney’s office removed from the case, the defense attorney alleges, following the meeting with the alleged victim’s lawyers, the DA decided to “vigorously prosecute a weak case.” Prosecutors changed course from offering to dismiss the case to offering Connor a plea deal that would have resulted in to two years in state prison and lifetime registration, Funke-Bilu said in the motion.

“The District Attorney’s objective was to eliminate adverse publicity and demonstrate that he was a soldier of #MeToo. Such politicization has no room in our courts, not even in a political campaign,” Funke-Bilu wrote.

In September, Dow penned an opinion piece he sent to local media noting the importance of believing those who report they have been sexually assaulted.

“I stand up for survivors of abuse and sexual assault because I know that sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse is extremely underreported and every single person, regardless of age, gender, or socio-economic status, deserves to be supported and treated with dignity and respect,’ Dow wrote. “We must come together as Americans and commit to stopping sexual violence wherever it occurs.

“This is not a partisan political issue. It is a culture issue. To change our culture, let’s ‘Start by Believing.’ ”

Many readers responded by questioning Dow’s understanding of innocent until proven guilty.

“Dan should stay out of politics and just do his job of prosecuting all of the criminals in this county,” Rukidding wrote. “Everyone, yes everyone should be considered innocent until proven guilty.”


Dan O’Neill is a very ethical and professional attorney whose integrity should not be questioned by doing what he thinks is best for his client.


When did this become a matter of being “his client?” The State of California is O’Neill’s client.


You have a police officer accused of raping multiple women, poor women who have had past drug issues, and Dan Dow does nothing. But he wants to prosecute a questionable case of sexual assault between a former couple.

It appears Dan Dow prosecutes crime not by the law but by who the people are, retaliating against those he does not like and giving a pass to law enforcement. Dan Dow lacks integrity.

Our community deserves better.


Most of what Dan Dow does is based on political reason instead of legal reasons.


Dan Dow has ignored the Adam Hill Gang crimes to the point of being a criminal himself. 

Adam Hill has committed extortion more than any other politician in history. What has Dow done? Nothing.

What is happening with the recent disclosures of embezzlement committed by Bill Worrell and the IWMA? All the evidence was gathered and handed to Dow. What has Dow done? Nothing.

How about the documented perjury and conspiracy by Charles Tenborg and Bill Worrell? Has Dow done anything? Nothing.

Every crime by this criminal group disclosed to Dan Dow somehow drifts downstream and disappears. The FBI is long overdue in this County. 

Jorge Estrada

It’s all political if that is the lens your using. In my past, politicians held babies for that in touch public appeal, today we hear them cracking down of child molesters (human trafficking) etc, this is how the demographics have changed. I’m sticking with ones we have, the hope is that they will keep this reality in the public viewing for whatever help can come their way. Yes, get it out there and hope people who see something will say something.


Plea Deal Dan Dow is another fat cat who loves the title, the benefits and the power, just not the work involved. He and Pretty boy Parkinson love the media spotlight and have lost sight of their civic duties. Dan is soft on crime unless he needs publicity. 

BTW, How many drug busts has Parkinson’s Navy made? The statement by Parkinson at the public debut of his $350.000 Sheriffs toy was, this would “save money” by using the boat to tow panga drug boats to the harbor. The harbor patrol said, this is what we already do and the boat was really Ians toy. 4 years later… taxpayers continue funding the maintenance and joyrides to make sure the toy is in working order. Pigs at the trough. 


There is much more to this case than what is presented. The victim’s attorney, Daniel O’Neill is not a criminal attorney. He is an “ambulance chasing” attorney. i would say that he was against dropping the charges because that would hinder his ability to file a lawsuit for damages that would result in a financial settlement rather than a criminal settlement. Looks like the District Attorney crumpled to the threat.


Dan O’Neil is far from an ambulance chaser. In fact he is one of the highest rated attorneys at the top of his game. I would vote for him if he ran to replace Dan Downer.


My point was that Mr. O’Neill is a personal injury attorney and I was questioning why he would get involved with a criminal activity? Nothing personal against Mr. O’Neill as he is a good person.


I completely agree with diamond. It’s unfortunate that most attorneys fit the stereotype but Mr. O’Neill is not one of them. He is not only good at his job but he is a good man.