Teen at Center of Cop Sex Case Freed From Florida Jail, Returning to Bay Area

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Jasmine Abuslin, 19, previously known as Celeste Guap, as she left the Martin County, Florida, jail with her father, left, and attorney Charles Bonner. (Pamela Price via Twitter)

The East Bay teenager at the center of a police sexual misconduct case was released from a Florida jail on Wednesday -- free to testify against police officers charged last week with exploiting her when she was a minor.

Nineteen-year-old Jasmine Abuslin -- previously known publicly as Celeste Guap -- appeared in a Martin County, Florida, court to plead no contest to a misdemeanor count of battery. The charge grew out of an altercation at a drug treatment facility to which she'd been sent by law enforcement officials in Richmond, a move that itself is the subject of controversy.

Abuslin has reportedly told investigators that while working in the East Bay sex trade, she had sexual contact with as many as 30 law enforcement officers. Those officers were members of seven different agencies, apparently including the police departments in Oakland, Richmond, Livermore and San Francisco and the sheriff's offices in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Last Friday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced her office was bringing charges against seven men, including five Oakland police officers, one from Livermore and a sheriff's deputy from Contra Costa County. The charges include oral copulation with a minor, engaging in an act of prostitution, obstruction of justice and unauthorized access to law enforcement computer systems.

Abuslin's attorney, Pamela Price, said that in addition to helping her client through criminal proceedings against the accused police officers, she and fellow lawyer Charles Bonner plan to sue the seven jurisdictions believed to be involved in the case. She said she also hopes that state and federal agencies will take over the investigation into sex trafficking involving police officers.


Abuslin "is not the only one" who has been victimized, Price said. She alleged a "network of police officers" is involved.

"You cannot have this many officers engaged in this conduct across jurisdictional lines without an internal network and communication amongst all of them," Price said.

Asked repeatedly whether officers had paid Abuslin in exchange for sex, Price said, "This child has been kidnapped, she has been placed in fear of her life, she has been held against her will in multiple locations in the Bay Area. So whether or not someone gave her a dollar or a dime is irrelevant."

Price said Abuslin had been trafficked since the age of 12 and decided to drop her pseudonym as part of moving on with her life after the exploitation case made her the center of often hostile attention on social media.

"Celeste Guap is dead," Price said during a press conference in Stuart, Florida.

Guap, Price said, was "blasted all over the news with Kardashian-like celebrity status (and) was a victim of child sex trafficking."

Abuslin, on the other hand, "is a young woman who is going to find herself, who wants to become a veterinarian. She's going to go back to school, she's going to create a life that every young woman should have," Price said. "Jasmine is going to have a second chance" at life.

Bonner told reporters that the legal team has arranged for Abuslin to receive medical and psychiatric treatment by specialists at Stanford.

In her charging announcement Friday, Alameda County DA O'Malley criticized Richmond authorities for sending the key witness in a sensitive case to Florida -- ostensibly for drug treatment that the prosecutor said was readily available in the Bay Area.

Price expanded upon that criticism Wednesday, saying that while she didn't know Richmond officials' motives, Abuslin is not drug-addicted and sending her out of state bore the appearance of witness tampering.

"She is a witness to criminal activity, a criminal conspiracy in the Bay Area," Price said. "There is no reason or rhyme to why she is here in Stuart, Florida. And the fact that she was arrested in a matter of days, charged and jailed for 17 days on a felony charge is just mind-boggling."

In a report released earlier this week on his department's handling of the case, Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown rejected suggestions of a conspiracy.

"Representations that we 'sent' this teenage witness away or had her 'removed' to Florida distort reality," Brown wrote.

But the chief added that several officers in the department could be subject to discipline because of "individual, unconnected, non-criminal engagements and other activities that violate multiple department policies and the professional code of ethics."

Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay told KQED's Julie Small on Wednesday that specific disciplinary recommendations will be announced "within days." Because of state laws protecting police privacy, individual officers will not be named.

Last week, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the city is moving to fire four officers and place seven others on leave in the sexual exploitation scandal.

KQED's Julie Small contributed to this post.