The young woman at the center of a scandal shaking multiple California police departments has revealed new and damning facts about the situation. Celeste Guap, 18, claims to have had sex with more than 30 Bay Area police officers in exchange for cash, tips about upcoming prostitution stings, and protection from prosecution. Things allegedly started when she was still a minor and met Oakland officer Brendan O'Brien in the course of fleeing an abusive pimp.
According to Guap, she and O'Brien began having sex in February 2015. "We [would] tell each other you're my only, you know, like that, but he knew what it was," she told ABC 7 in a recent interview. O'Brien's wife had died the previous year in what had been ruled a suicide but some suspected O'Brien of being involved in.
Guap told the TV station that in September 2015, she celebrated her 18th birthday by traveling to Puerto Rico, where she found herself alone in a "rough area" and called O'Brien for help. He didn't pick up. She threatened to expose him for sleeping with her when she was still 17 and, when he still didn't respond, she did it, sending a text to a commanding officer at OPD detailing her relationship with O'Brien and several other OPD officers. She then sent a screenshot of the text to O'Brien.
A few hours later, O'Brien committed suicide.
"Guap appears to have some guilt about this, and perhaps some anger toward the dozens of other officers who contacted her for sex over the ensuing months," SFist reports.
I don't know about you, but if my colleague had killed himself after being threatened with exposure by a teen sex worker, my impulse would be, at least, to avoid her. OPD officers, however, thought otherwise. Not only did those alerted to O'Brien and Guap's relationship not report it, they began allegedly contacting Guap—the daughter of an OPD dispatcher—for sex themselves. Guap said she eventually began sleeping with cops from neighboring areas, too, including Alameda County and San Francisco. She turned over an array of cell phone records to various departments to corroborate her claims.
Since these allegations came out, two OPD officers resigned and three more were placed on administrative leave pending investigation. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office investigated four offiers, but determined that because Guap was 18 at the time they slept with her and they did not pay her in cash, no wrongdoing was involved.
In total, Guap claims to have slept with 32 members of local law enforcement, although she claims only three paid her. The rest she slept with for information and protection from arrest, said Guap, who mostly did street-based sex work.
I don't mean to deny Guap's agency, but when your choices are have sex with someone or get thrown in jail… It might not be rape as we commonly think of it, but it's sure as hell—if nothing else—an abuse of authority. It's coercion. And it's a direct result of the criminalization of prostitution, a system that seems to benefit no one but corrupt cops and violent sex traffickers.
While all of this was happening with Guap, the Oakland and Alameda County police departments were very public crusaders against prostitution. In the first six months of 2014, Oakland police made 295 arrests related to prostitution and conducted 30 prostitution stings. "We don't have a lot of resources," said OPD Luitenenant Kevin Wiley at the time. "But the ones we have, we dedicate 110 percent."
The city even ran billboards featuring the mugshots of men who were arrested for attempting to pay for sex. Another series of recent Oakland city billboards featured slogans such as: "Buying a teen for sex is child abuse. Turning a blind eye is neglect."