Michael Lallana

Michael Lallana (Courtesy Orange County district attorney┬┐s office / October 31, 2012)

The conviction of a 34-year-old Fullerton man accused of depositing semen in a co-worker's water bottle has been upheld by a panel of Orange County Superior Court judges.

Michael Lallana was convicted last spring of two misdemeanor counts of battery for twice putting semen in a woman’s water bottle, which she unknowingly drank. 

Lallana met the co-worker while working at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network in Newport Beach.

Lallana was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation and was ordered to register as a sex offender, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Lallana's attorney, Tom Dunn, argued on appeal that touching is an essential element of battery and something that didn't occur in this case. He also argued that there was insufficient evidence to find that the battery was committed for sexual gratification.

Dunn said the district attorney's office is attempting to stretch the definition of the crime.

“They’re playing Capt. Kirk,” he said. “They are taking the law where no man has gone before.”

The appellate panel of judges, which included Clay Smith, Ronald Bauer, and Craig Griffin, issued its ruling Monday and cited a case in Missouri in which a woman unknowingly ingested semen in her drink.

In that case, the court ruled that the woman’s drinking mug counted as physical contact in the case.

The judges also argued that there was plenty of evidence to convict Lallana of the crime for sexual gratification and cited police interviews in which the man said he found the victim “good looking” and imagined her drinking out of the bottle.

The second time the woman drank from the bottle in 2010, she became suspicious of the taste and sent it to a private lab to be tested, authorities said. The woman then filed a report, which led to an investigation and Lallana's arrest.

Dunn said the case represents an issue of statewide importance and intends to take it to a higher court.

Prosecutor Anna Chinowth said that the case represents a unique set of facts for a run-of-the-mill instance of battery.

“We never thought for a second that his actions didn’t fit into that statute,” she said.

This story was reported by Times Staff Writer Nicole Santa Cruz.