Cases Dropped Against California Cops Accused of Statutory Rape, Prostitution With Police Dispatcher's Daughter
Judge says Bay Area cops accused of sex crimes might not have known that Oakland teenager "Celeste Guap" was underage.
"Celeste Guap," the daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher, says she was sexually exploited by local cops from a young age and had been paid for and/or extorted into sex with dozens of Bay Area officers by the time she turned 19. Oakland bungled the investigation into this activity, then shipped her off to drug rehab in Florida for a while; there she was jailed for getting in an altercation with a security officer before she made it back to the west coast to testify. But for a minute at least it looked like some of these men might be held accountable in criminal court.
Last week, however, Judge Jon Rolefson dismissed charges against former Contra Costa County Sheriff's Deputy Ricardo Perez and Alameda County prosecutors dropped their case against Oakland officer Giovanni LoVerde. LoVerde was charged with felony oral copulation with a minor. He is still employed with the Oakland Police Department (OPD).
Perez was charged with felony unlawful sex with a minor, felony oral copulation with a minor, and two misdemeanor counts of engaging in lewd conduct. But Rolefson decided there was insufficient evidence Perez knew that Guap was under age 18. Last month Rolefson also dropped the charges against former officer Brian Bunton, who was accused of paying Guap for sex once she was 18 and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Bunton, LoVerde, and Perez were three of only six officers criminally charged, though there was evidence implicating many more cops in Oakland and neighboring areas. "Some of the officers still work at OPD despite social media evidence they sexually exploited the girl or ignored signs of wrongdoing by fellow officers," notes the East Bay Express.
The OPD has fired four cops over allegations related to Guap. Twelve officers were disciplined in other ways, another committed suicide, and a longtime police chief was forced to resign.
Ultimately, only three men have been convicted: Oakland Sgt. Leroy Johnson, accused of knowing about what other Oakland cops were doing with Guap but not reporting it; Oakland Capt. Al Perrodin, accused of paying Guap for sex when she was 18; and Livermore cop Daniel Black, also accused of paying Guap for sex. The case against one more Oakland cop, accused of illegally using a police database, remains open.
Johnson pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to three years' probation. Perrodin pled guilty and was sentenced to five days' house arrest and two years' probation. Black pled no contest to one count of engaging in a lewd act, in a deal that saw three prostitution charges dropped and will allow his record to be wiped clean if he doesn't get arrested again in within 15 months.
Alameda County District Attorney Spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said prosecutors dropped the case against LoVerde because of its similarity to the Perez case, which Judge Rolefson had already rejected. But the county plans to appeal Rolefson's decision on Perez. She told the East Bay Times "there exists a conflict in the law interpreting the criminal statutes that govern the crimes charged, and we have determined that we will seek an appellate remedy."