CRIME

Charges Announced For Bay Area Cops Linked To Sex Scandal

Officers allegedly gave a teen info about police operations in return for sexual favors.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (L) and Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent (R) speak to members of the media about vandalism and prop
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (L) and Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent (R) speak to members of the media about vandalism and property damage that ensued during yesterday's May Day protest in Oakland, California on May 2, 2015. Hundreds marched throughout the city on May 1 to mark International Workers' Day vandalizing store fronts, smashing windows and lighting a car on fire before eventually dispersing

OAKLAND, Calif. — Seven Bay Area law enforcement officers will be charged for their alleged roles in a scandal involving a teen who says cops gave her confidential information in return for sexual favors. 

Five Oakland city officers, one Livermore officer and one Contra Costa County sheriff’s officer are facing charges, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced at a press conference on Friday.

The criminal charges are the latest move to hold officers responsible for improper sexual contact with the teen, who is known by her pseudonym Celeste Guap, or for failing to report their colleagues’ encounters with her.

Guap, now 19, said she had sex with about 30 officers from various Bay Area law enforcement departments. She claims she was underage during some of those encounters and that officers knew it. In exchange, some officers allegedly paid her and shared details about upcoming prostitution raids. 

The officers facing charges are: 

  • Ricardo Perez of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, charged with one count of oral copulation with a minor and two counts of engaging in a lewd act in a public place. He has resigned.
  • Dan Black of the Livermore Police Department, charged with two misdemeanor counts of engaging in an act of prostitution and two misdemeanor counts of engaging in a lewd act in a public place. He has resigned.
  • Brian Bunton of the Oakland Police Department, charged with a felony count of obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor count of engaging in an act of prostitution.
  • Warit Utappa of the Oakland Police Department, charged with a misdemeanor count of conducting a search on a police database without an authorized purpose.
  • Tyrell Smith of the Oakland Police Department, charged with four misdemeanor counts of conducting a search on a police database without an authorized purpose. He has resigned.
  • Leroy Johnson of the Oakland Police Department, charged with one count of failure to report. He has retired.
  • Giovani LoVerde of the Oakland Police Department, charged with one felony count of oral copulation with a minor.

“The actions of a few cast a negative light” on the work of honest cops, O’Malley said. The officers are not yet in custody, she said.

O’Malley added that many officers engaged in “sexually explicit or sexually inappropriate” communication on social media with Guap, and that “the evidence we uncovered could not substantiate” that the teen had sexual intercourse with them as a minor.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced Wednesday that four Oakland cops would be fired and seven others suspended without pay for their actions related to the scandal. The officers facing dismissal committed acts like attempted sexual assault, lewd conduct in public and helping a prostitute avoid arrest, according to the city’s investigation. The suspended officers failed to report their fellow cops’ misconduct, misused police databases or dishonored the department, according to Schaaf. A 12th officer will undergo counseling for bringing disrepute to the force. 

Though the sex scandal involved multiple law enforcement agencies, it especially shook the highest ranks of the Oakland Police Department. Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, who’d been a popular reformer, resigned in June amid allegations that he hadn’t adequately investigated Guap’s claims. Two replacement chiefs left the department within nine days of Whent’s departure, and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth is now filling in while the city looks for a permanent chief.  

Guap is currently in Florida, where she was seeking treatment at a rehab facility. Charges have not yet been formally filed because O’Malley said she can’t prosecute the case without her key witness returning to testify.

Clarification: This story has been amended to clarify that the seven officers mentioned have not yet been charged, although charges have been announced.

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