Seven California officers charged in police teen sex scandal

OAKLAND (KRON) — Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced Friday that seven officers are being charged in the sexual misconduct scandal plaguing Bay Area law enforcement agencies.

According to O’Malley, seven officers will be charged: a Contra Costa County Sheriff’s deputy, a former Livermore police officer, and five current and former Oakland police officers.

The charges include oral copulation with a minor, engaging in a lewd act, engaging in prostitution and obstruction of justice.

The current and former officers charged are Ricardo Perez, Dan Black, Brian Bunton, Warit Utappa, Tyrell Smith, Leroy Johnson and Giovani LoVerde.

Contra Costa County sheriff’s Deputy Ricardo Perez, who resigned as details of the scandal emerged, has been charged with one count of felony oral copulation with a minor and with two counts of committing a lewd act in a public place.

Dan Black, a Livermore police officer who left the department this week, was charged with two counts of engaging in an act of prostitution and two acts of committing a lewd act in a public place.

Oakland police Officer Brian Bunton has been charged with one count of felony obstruction of justice and one count of engaging in an act of prostitution.

Officer Tyrell Smith, an Oakland police officer who resigned in May, has been charged with four counts of conducting search of criminal justice system data without authorized purpose. Smith had sexual conduct with Guap but it happened in Contra Costa County outside of O’Malley’s jurisdiction, she said.

Retired Oakland police Sgt. Leroy Johnson was charged with failure to report sexual misconduct against a minor. Oakland police Officer Giovani LoVerde was charged with felony oral copulation with a minor.

These are the first criminal charges announced in this sexual misconduct scandal.

The charges come after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that 12 Oakland police officers are being disciplined in the sex scandal.

Four Oakland police officers were fired and seven were suspended without pay, Schaaf said.

EXPANDED COVERAGE: OPD Sex Scandal

“I am grateful to District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office for agreeing to conduct a parallel and independent criminal investigation in this matter. The results of both the administrative and criminal investigations make it clear that misconduct will not be tolerated. The consequences of poor judgment and bad behavior can end careers and shatter lives,” Schaaf said in a statement on Friday.

In arriving at the decision, O’Malley said she reviewed 150,000 pages of data dating back to January 2015, including thousands of pages of communications via Instagram, Facebook and text messages.

“We left no stone unturned in terms of the evidence,” O’Malley said.

The 19-year-old woman at the center of the scandal, Celeste Guap, said she has had sex with about 30 law enforcement officials from various law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area. Four of the sexual encounters happened while she was a minor.

Oakland police said in May that an investigation into allegations that officers committed sexual misconduct with a minor began after an officer committed suicide.

Guap flew to Florida in August to participate in a drug rehabilitation program. She was then arrested in Martin County, Florida for aggravated battery.

KRON’s Haaziq Maduyn first broke the story of the sex scandal in May.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Thursday disciplinary action has begun against a dozen officers, including dismissal proceedings against four.

The Oakland police union says it is disappointed by the actions of a few officers linked to a sexual misconduct scandal involving a teenager and assured residents the majority of officers are hardworking and upstanding.

Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association, made the comments in a statement issued Friday after a prosecutor said she will file charges against seven former and current San Francisco Bay Area officers in connection with the misconduct.

BACKGROUND:

On Wednesday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth said that four Oakland police officers would be fired for their role in the scandal. They did not name the officers.

The city’s administrative investigation found that those officers had engaged in a litany of misconduct, including attempted sexual assault, engaging in lewd conduct in public, assisting in the crime of prostitution,
assisting in the evading arrest for the crime of prostitution, accessing law enforcement databases for personal gain, being untruthful to investigators and failing to report a violation of law or rules.

Officers at other Bay Area law enforcement agencies have also been implicated in the case, including in the district attorney’s office, where former Oakland police Capt. Ricardo Orozco was fired for contact with the
woman.

Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown said in August that an investigation of Richmond officers seemed likely to uncover department violations but no violations of law.

Richmond police Officer Jerrod Tong was placed on leave in connection with the investigation in July after he was reassigned away from positions where he had any interaction with youth.

Lt. Andre Hill, a department spokesman, was also reassigned from his role as manager of the Youth and Special Services Division, but remains on active duty with the department.

Guap, meanwhile, was flown to a Florida rehabilitation facility in August and was arrested for allegedly assaulting a guard on Aug. 29. She remains in jail under $300,000 bail, according to jail records.

O’Malley said an outside agency, reportedly the Richmond Police Department, arranged to send Guap to the facility in Florida against the wishes of the district attorney’s office. They are working to get her back to California and expect she will testify.

WHO IS THE WOMAN AT THE CENTER OF CASE?

The 19-year-old woman, who says she worked as a prostitute, says she informed internal affairs investigators months ago that she had sex with three Oakland police officers and a Contra Costa County deputy before her 18th birthday. In all, she said she has had sex with about 30 law enforcement officials, mostly during the past year. She said she received money during a few encounters and often traded sex for protection from arrest and tips on prostitution stings.

HOW DID IT COME TO LIGHT?

One of the three Oakland officers accused by the teen committed suicide in October, leaving behind a note discussing having sex with the woman. The two other Oakland officers and the Contra Costa County deputy have resigned.

WHAT CONSEQUENCES DO OFFICERS FACE?

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said dismissal proceedings have begun for four Oakland officers, seven will serve a range of unpaid suspensions before being allowed to return to duty and another will be required to attend training classes. Two officers implicated in the scandal previously resigned. A third killed himself last year. Six Richmond police officers and several others working for other law enforcement agencies have also been implicated. On Thursday, a Livermore police officer who had been on administrative leave resigned after seeing the results of his department’s investigation.

WHO ARE THE OFFICERS?

The officers who will be charged are: former Contra Costa Sheriff’s Deputy Ricardo Perez; former Livermore Police Officer Dan Black; Oakland Police Officers Brian Bunton, Giovani LoVerde and Warit Utappa; and former Oakland Police Officers Tyrell Smith and Leroy Johnson.

The officers face charges of felony oral copulation with a minor, felony obstruction of justice, engaging in a lewd act in a public place, engaging in an act of prostitution, and other lesser misdemeanors.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said she will file charges against seven former and current San Francisco Bay Area officers in connection to the scandal. The woman was admitted to a drug treatment center in Florida.

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