Police

Lewd Acts and Prostitution Among Charges for California Cops—If Alleged Victim Gets Out of Florida Jail

"If we don't have a witness," said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, "we can't prosecute these cases."

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Seven California police officers will be charged in conjunction with a wide-reaching sexual-misconduct investigation, at the center of which sits Celeste Guap. The 19-year-old claims to have slept with 32 Bay-Area officers, beginning when she was 17 years old, in exchange for cash, protection from prostitution stings, or running police background checks on people she knew.

Last Wednesday, the city of Oakland announced that four of its officers had been fired and seven put on unpaid leave related to their relationships with Guap or their role in covering up colleagues' relationships. On Friday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley reported that seven area officers would face criminal charges, including five (current and former) Oakland cops, a former Livermore police officer, and a former Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputy.

The Sheriff's deputy, Ricardo Perez, will be charged with one count of felony oral copulation with a minor and two counts of committed a lewd act in public, said O'Malley at a press conference. The Livermore police officer, Dan Black, will be charged wit two counts of engaging in an act of prostitution and two counts of committing a lewd act in public.

Oakland Officer Brian Bunton will be charged with one count of engaging in an act of prostitution and one count of felony obstruction of justice. His colleagues, Giovani LoVerde and Sgt. Leroy Johnson, will be charged with felony oral copulation with a minor and failure to report sexual misconduct against a minor, respectively.

Oakland officer Warit Uttapa will be charged with one count of searching a criminal justice system database without authorized purpose, and Terryl Smith with four counts of the same. O'Malley said Smith also engaged in sexual activity with Guap but it happened outside the county's jurisdiction.

"I am grateful to District Attorney Nancy O'Malley's office for agreeing to conduct a parallel and independent criminal investigation in this matter," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff in a statement. "The results of both the administrative and criminal investigations make it clear that misconduct will not be tolerated."

That sentiment might be more convincing, however, if Guap hadn't been flown to Florida for drug-addiction treatment on the state's dime and then, while there, booked in county jail for aggravated battery with bail set at $300,000. According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, Guap was brought in after biting a security guard at the treatment facility.

Contra Costa County Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug MacMaster said it was "ludicrous" to think the Richmond Police Department—which helped Guap apply for money from the state's Victim Compensation Fund, and also includes several deputies implicated by Guap—had intentionally tried "to squirrel her out of state."

But as long as Guap remains out of state, Alameda County can't proceed with the prosecutions of Black, Bunton, Johnson, LoVerde, Perez, Smith, and Uttapa. So far none of the men have been arrested and no charges have been filed.

"If we don't have a witness," said O'Malley at a press conference Friday, "we can't prosecute these cases."