Along with City Administrator Sabrina Landreth (who is acting as temporary administrative head of the Oakland Police Department), Mayor Libby Schaaf gave a press conference late Wednesday announcing the disciplining of a dozen Oakland Police officers in the scandal involving sex worker Celeste Guap. As KRON 4 reports, the city has concluded a months-long investigation into various officers' communications and contact with Guap and determined that seven officers should be suspended without pay, four have been terminated, and one will be sent to counseling.
The scandal, which broke in the media in May and led to the June 9 resignation of Chief Sean Whent, began unfolding last September with the suicide of officer Brendan O'Brien. O'Brien and three other officers had apparently engaged in sex with Guap before she turned 18, which happened last August, and Guap's threats to inform O'Brien's superiors of this appear to have led, at least in part, to his suicide.
Guap was then first interviewed by police on September 30, 2015, per KRON 4, and she proceeded to get involved with dozens more members of local law enforcement, including Richmond and San Francisco Police officers.
The Oakland investigation involved reviewing some 28,000 text messages and 8,000 pages of social media.
The four terminated officers are variously accused of attempted sexual assault, lewd conduct in public, assisting in the crime of prostitution, being untruthful to investigators, failing to report a violation of law by not reporting a minor having sexual conduct with police officers, assisting in the evading arrest for the crime of prostitution, accessing law enforcement databases for personal gain, and bringing disrepute to the Oakland Police Department.
Among the four terminated officers are two officers who previously resigned in May, one of whom the East Bay Express reports was among the four who had sex with Guap while she was underage (another one of those four was allegedly part of the SFPD). They were not mentioned by name by Schaaf, but the Express says that rookie officers James Ta'ai and Terryl Smith must be among the four because the offenses listed by Schaaf appear to match those that the two are accused of. Ta'ai allegedly had sex with Guap while she was underage, while Smith allegedly used "confidential law enforcement databases to access her previous criminal history, and attempted to rape her on one occasion."
The Express notes that sources within city government are skeptical that any supervisors or higher ranking officers are being disciplined, which could present a problem for outside arbitrators who continue to scrutinize the OPD. At the press conference, "Schaaf did not respond when asked whether anyone other than low-ranking cops were punished."
Meanwhile, Guap was sent off to a rehab facility in Florida two weeks ago by officials in Richmond, apparently due to an addiction to heroin. After allegedly propositioning and biting a guard at the facility, she then landed in jail last week.
When asked about Guap ending up in Florida, Schaaf said, "We're not happy about this," and said that Oakland had offered its support to Guap and she would have preferred if Guap had been remanded to a treatment facility locally.
Now, according to KRON 4, Guap has retained two civil rights attorneys, Oakland-based attorney Pamela Price and Sausalito-based attorney Charles Bonner. Price wrote on her firm's website that though Richmond Police have denied paying to send Guap to Florida, it makes no sense that she's there. "She has no family there or any ties to Florida, or any reason to be there, other than someone in a Bay Area law enforcement agency thought it would be a good idea for her to go there." Price has started this crowdfunding campaign to assist with Guap's legal defense.
BREAKING: Celeste Guap retains a pair of Bay Area civil rights attorneys, on their way to Florida now. @kron4news— Haaziq Madyun (@KRON4HMadyun) September 7, 2016
Here's a tearful jailhouse interview Guap gave last week from Florida, though the sound is fairly bad.
Local civil rights attorney John Burris tells the East Bay Express that it's now up to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to file criminal charges against the police officers involved, however he said he's "not optimistic" that that will happen "since members of the district attorney's office were involved.”