The California Bay Area law enforcement sex scandal centered around teenager Celeste Guap has now resulted in seven officers being charged with a variety of crimes.
In a story that has continued to build all summer into a fiasco of epically embarrassing proportions, a crescendo of legal actions has been sounded against some of those involved.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced Friday that seven officers are being charged in the sexual misconduct scandal plaguing Bay Area law enforcement agencies.
According to O’Malley, seven officers will be charged: a Contra Costa County Sheriff’s deputy, a former Livermore police officer, and five current and former Oakland police officers.
The charges include oral copulation with a minor, engaging in a lewd act, engaging in prostitution and obstruction of justice.
The current and former officers charged are Ricardo Perez, Dan Black, Brian Bunton, Warit Utappa, Tyrell Smith, Leroy Johnson and Giovani LoVerde.
Contra Costa County sheriff’s Deputy Ricardo Perez, who resigned as details of the scandal emerged, has been charged with one count of felony oral copulation with a minor and with two counts of committing a lewd act in a public place.
Dan Black, a Livermore police officer who left the department this week, was charged with two counts of engaging in an act of prostitution and two acts of committing a lewd act in a public place.
Oakland police Officer Brian Bunton has been charged with one count of felony obstruction of justice and one count of engaging in an act of prostitution.
Officer Tyrell Smith, an Oakland police officer who resigned in May, has been charged with four counts of conducting search of criminal justice system data without authorized purpose. Smith had sexual conduct with Guap but it happened in Contra Costa County outside of O’Malley’s jurisdiction, she said.
Retired Oakland police Sgt. Leroy Johnson was charged with failure to report sexual misconduct against a minor. Oakland police Officer Giovani LoVerde was charged with felony oral copulation with a minor.
These are the first criminal charges announced in this sexual misconduct scandal.
The charges come after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that 12 Oakland police officers are being disciplined in the sex scandal.
Four Oakland police officers were fired and seven were suspended without pay, Schaaf said.
There has been no word on whether further charges may yet be coming against more officers, or if this is the end of the investigation. Celeste claims to have had sex with at least 30 law enforcement employees in the Bay City area, both professionally as a prostitute and for recreational use. Some of these incidents happened before the young woman was of the age of consent.
The scandal has caused quite the controversy and has tarnished the reputation of law enforcement across an entire metropolitan area. This leaves one to wonder how serious prosecutors are about rooting all the bad apples out of their bunch, and if this isn’t just an attempt to throw a minimum number of officers under the bus to appease an outraged public.
Since so few involved have been affected, it seems pretty clear that tolerance for abuse and corruption exists even within the confines of this case. And charges are not convictions, and more often than not, convicted officers are given lesser sentences than civilians.
The search for justice already seems to getting undermined by a minimalist application of accountability, so there is little reason to believe that law enforcement employees involved will pay the full price of their behaviors. Accountability is futile, abolish the police.