A woman who accused a California Assembly candidate of sexual battery in an Encinitas bar will spend two days in jail after pleading guilty to false accusation charges.
Niki Burgan said 2018 candidate Phil Graham kissed her without consent in the First Street Bar on the evening of May 14 and followed her outside of the bar where he attempted to have her touch him sexually.
Burgan admitted those accusations were false in court on Tuesday.
In a victim impact statement read by Graham in court, the San Diego businessman said Burgan’s false accusations interfered with an election, and, “In a free and democratic society, this is a reprehensible crime.”
“Simply do a Google search and ugly stories pop right up. Yes, there will be stories of Ms. Burgan pleading guilty, but those other stories will always be there, and sadly, even though the evidence of falsification and lying to law enforcement is clear, that alone will never suffice to eradicate doubt,” the statement read in part.
Graham went on to say that he believes the accusations cost him the election, and also thousands of dollars.
“My life has been forever changed because of the intentional, false actions of Ms. Burgan; I ask the court to take this impact into consideration in its [sentencing] decision,” Graham asked.
Burgan was sentenced to 48 hours in jail, three years of probation and 10 days of community service. There is also a possibility that she will have to pay restitution.
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Sexual Assault Detectives began conducting an investigation into the alleged incident on May 21 (a day after Burgan reported it) that included interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance video from inside and outside of the business. SDSO says the evidence disproves the woman’s account.
As a result, the case was closed pending any new or additional information, SDSO said.
Graham is the stepson of former mayor and retired Governor Pete Wilson and has been endorsed by the San Diego GOP and Supervisor Ron Roberts, among others.