Prosecutor chided for calling escapee 'Hannibal Lecter'

Orange County's district attorney on Tuesday rebuked one of the prosecutors in his office for referring to one of three escaped Southern California inmates as "Hannibal Lecter."

Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown made the remarks to the Orange County Register, comparing escaped inmate Hossein Nayeri to the famed cannibal villain from "Silence of the Lambs" and other movies, books and TV shows.

"My first reaction was: Oh, my God, they let Hannibal Lecter out," Brown, who is handling the case against Nayeri, told the newspaper Monday. "He is sophisticated, incredibly violent and cunning." She also called him "diabolical."

On Tuesday, her boss, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, called the statements "inappropriate, uninformed, and rash." He added that they were not authorized by him or anyone in his office, and they don't reflect the official position of prosecutors.

Authorities allege Nayeri and two other people kidnapped a marijuana dispensary owner in 2012 by zip-tying his wrists, beating him and putting him in a van. They drove the man to the desert, tortured him by burning him with a blow torch and cutting off his penis, prosecutors said.

He is charged with kidnapping for ransom and aggravated mayhem, torture and burglary.

Rackauckas' office has seen a series of public problems in the past year, mostly stemming from what critics, including a commission called by the DA himself, have called its misuse of jailhouse informants in prosecuting cases.