The young woman and former sex worker who became widely known as Celeste Guap via salacious news stories about a sex scandal that touched six different East Bay law enforcement agencies appeared as a witness in court for the first time in a criminal trial against former Oakland Police Officer Brian Bunton. If you followed the story last year, you may recall that Bunton was one of the first officers whom Guap, a.k.a. Jasmine Abuslin, befriended and began a sexual relationship with, and whom she nicknamed Superman. As ABC 7 reports, Abuslin testified in court Thursday about the details of her relationship with Bunton, who stands accused of misdemeanor prostitution and felony obstruction of justice because of text messages he sent apparently warning Abuslin of prostitution stings by the department.
This was just a preliminary hearing, as KRON 4 reports, and the judge ruled Thursday that there was sufficient evidence to take the case to trial.
As the Chronicle reports, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Rogers told Bunton in court that he was "compromised" as soon as he had sex with the teenage Abuslin, and that in his actions and words he was "actually pimping her like a pimp would do."
The Chronicle details Abuslin's testimony in which she describes meeting with Bunton in an Oakland hotel room rented by her actual pimp for sex, and why she ultimately decided to "snitch" on him, leading to the many dominoes that subsequently fell in this case.
Abuslin claims she became upset in April 2016 after hearing from another officer with whom she was having sex that Bunton was talking about her behind her back with several of these officers who were part of a "club" who all had sex with her.
It was not long after this that Police Chief Sean Whent resigned, and Oakland went through a series of three police chiefs in the course of a week before Mayor Libby Schaaf decided to put a civilian city administrator temporarily in charge of the department. Ultimately seven law enforcement officers were named for possible criminal prosecution in connection to Abuslin, and she allegedly had connections to dozens more.
Bunton was not the first officer to be involved with Abuslin that appeared to have been Officer Brendan O'Brien, who was one of several officers who allegedly had sex with the teenager before she turned 18. It was the revelation of Abuslin's age, and her threat to tell O'Brien's superiors in August 2015 that appears to have precipitated O'Brien's decision to take his own life.
In court testimony we also learned that an undercover sting Bunton claimed to be protecting Abuslin from was not, in fact, real, and that he lied about this in a text message in order to keep her off the streets one night in the rain. She also testified that Bunton told her, regarding her pimp, that she need "a better manager."
Abuslin further testified, per the Chron, that some officers paid her for her services, while others would tip her off to undercover stings.
Speaking to ABC 7, Dirk Manoukian, Bunton's defense attorney, says of Bunton, "He absolutely understands and accepts he made some terrible personal decisions but does not feel those decisions rose to the level of felony conduct and based on what we saw today, I think he's right." Manoukian adds, "I don't believe the record... [or that] the facts as we know them would support a conviction on a felony." He says he'd love to "work something out" with the district attorney.