2 More OPD Officers, Contra Costa Deputy Charged in Sex Exploitation Case

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 (Alex Emslie/KQED)

Three more peace officers were formally charged Monday in a case involving allegations of wide-ranging sexual exploitation at the hands of Bay Area law enforcement.

All three face felony charges and are accused of engaging in sexual acts with the teenager at the center of the scandal.

Oakland's hushed investigation into sexual exploitation and misconduct reportedly exposed by an officer's suicide note led to increased federal scrutiny and appears to have instigated former Police Chief Sean Whent's resignation in June. As the department's crisis expanded, so did allegations of officer misconduct and criminal sexual exploitation in other jurisdictions. They all centered around the teenage daughter of an OPD dispatcher who appears to have been the victim of child sex trafficking.

Oakland Officer Brian Bunton faces a felony conspiracy to obstruct justice charge for allegedly tipping off the woman -- who called herself "Celeste Guap" -- to undercover prostitution stings. She worked in the sex trade at the time, and appears to have been a sexually exploited minor.

The woman shared an exchange with East Bay Express reporters, in which the officer she nicknamed "Superman" on her cellphone asked if she "wants some advice."

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"Stay off E14 from Fruitvale to 42 tonight," the officer allegedly wrote. "There's a UC [undercover] operation. ... Just giving you a heads up."

From the charges filed Monday:

In the exchange, Bunton, who was identified by the screen name "Superman" told her to stay away from International on a particular night because [there] was a UC operation going on.

Subject, per reporting party, received sex in exchange for the information.

Bunton is also charged with one misdemeanor -- engaging in prostitution.


No current or former officers charged or likely to be charged in Alameda County will face statutory rape allegations, District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in early September, but some are being charged with oral copulation with a minor, a felony.

That's the only charge filed against Oakland Officer Giovanni LoVerde Monday. He allegedly started talking with the woman online and told prosecutors he never met her in person.

But prosecutors allege that sometime in July 2015, when the woman was 17 years old, LoVerde met her near Oakland's Lake Merritt and engaged in a sex act with her in the entryway of a apartment.

Former Contra Costa Sheriff's Deputy Ricardo Perez resigned in late June amid the growing scandal. He was charged Monday with felony oral copulation with a minor and two misdemeanor counts of engaging in lewd conduct in a public place.

Perez could have faced many more criminal counts, according to the woman's allegations.

"Subject per victim had sexual intercourse with her about 10 times in an unknown location near Fish Ranch Road in the Oakland Hills when she was 17 years old," according to the declaration of probable cause attached to charges against Perez.

But Perez said that "his first sexual contact with the victim was between 5 to 7 days after 18, August 2015," according to the charging documents -- a range of dates that includes the woman's 18th birthday.

"It appears that the subject engaged in at least one sex act, oral copulation, with the subject when she was 17 years old in a public place," the declaration says, adding that additional sex acts also occurred in a public place.

Alameda prosecutors charged former Livermore Officer Daniel Black and former Oakland Officer Leroy Johnson last week. OPD Officer Warit Utappa and former OPD Officer Tyrell Smith are expected to be formally charged in coming days, bringing the total number of current and former officers charged in Alameda County to seven.

Additional charges could come in neighboring counties, according to O'Malley's comments earlier this month. Investigations remain open in Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.

Meanwhile, the woman at the center of the scandal recently returned to the Bay Area and is represented by civil rights attorneys who have said she plans to fully cooperate with criminal prosecutions. Her attorneys filed a legal claim in Oakland Friday and plan to file similar claims against at least five other cities and counties.