Richmond Cops Facing Discipline in Sex Exploitation Case Include Sergeants, Lieutenants

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Of the 11 officers investigated, Richmond announced Friday that nine officers would face varying levels of discipline from the city related to teenager at the center of sexual exploitation allegations involving dozens of officers from multiple Bay Area law enforcement agencies. (Alex Emslie/KQED)

Richmond is moving to fire one officer and impose varying degrees of discipline against eight others in its response to a sweeping sexual exploitation scandal involving several Bay Area law enforcement agencies.

The scandal centers around 19-year-old Jasmine Abuslin, a Richmond resident who appears to have been the victim of child sexual exploitation. Formerly known as "Celeste Guap," she has told various media outlets that she began working in the sex trade at age 12, and had sexual relationships with as many as 30 Bay Area law enforcement officers, starting when she was 16.

"I am both disappointed and outraged that the individual behavior of some Richmond police officers has brought discredit to the department and serves to undermine community trust," Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said in a written statement.

Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay released information Friday about the city's move to discipline nine officers. One faces termination, one could be demoted, two face suspensions and five others could get letters of reprimand in their personnel files.

Lindsay said the pool of those facing discipline includes multiple lieutenants, sergeants and officers. He said he couldn't elaborate further, citing strict privacy protections in state law for peace officer discipline.


"Believe me, I'd like to tell you more," he said.

The proposed discipline is neither final nor immediate. Each officer has 10 days to request a private hearing, according to the city's press release. After that, the city's police chief will recommend upholding the discipline recommended or reducing it -- possibly to nothing. City Manager Lindsay makes the near-final determination, but officers have 14 days to again dispute the discipline, and could request binding arbitration.

The Richmond Mayor's Office did not immediately respond to questions as to whether the laws cited in the city's press release, which keep peace officer disciplinary information secret, should be changed.

The Richmond Police Department and Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office were involved in securing state victim funds to facilitate drug-addiction treatment for the teenager in Florida last month, a move criticized by advocates and the Alameda County district attorney.

"The Richmond Police Department has been purposeful in trying to protect the human dignity of the teenage witness since the investigation was opened," the city's statement released Friday says. "The Department will not comment on matters that are covered by privacy protections guaranteed by law, and specific privacy protections that cover victims of crimes."

Abuslin was promptly arrested under suspicion of battery in Florida for biting a security guard at a treatment facility there, and she spent over two weeks in a jail before accepting a plea deal and returning to the Bay Area in mid-September.

Abuslin's civil rights attorneys have since filed a legal claim against the city of Oakland and have said they plan to initiate similar lawsuits in at least five other jurisdictions: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Francisco, Livermore and Richmond.

Seven current and former law enforcement officers face criminal charges in Alameda County related to their relationships with the teen. Those charges range from felonies like conspiracy to obstruct justice and oral copulation with a minor to misdemeanor prostitution and lewd conduct charges. Officers are also charged with illegally accessing law enforcement information and failing to report a victim of child abuse.

City Police Chief Allwyn Brown reported last week that an internal investigation found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in a pool of 11 Richmond officers under suspicion. His memo to city leadership said some of the officers would face discipline for violating department policies.

"I am sorry that the misconduct of these individuals has brought embarrassment to the City of Richmond and the Richmond Police Department," Brown said in a written statement. He did not immediately respond to follow-up inquires Friday.

The teenager at the center of the scandal told the East Bay Times in July that she had sexual contact with at least five Richmond officers, including Richmond police spokesman Lt. Andre Hill, Sgts. Armando Moreno and Mike Rood, and school resource officers Jerred Tong and Terrance Jackson.

The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office did not respond to inquiries Friday about the status of an on-again, off-again criminal inquiry into sexual exploitation by peace officers in the county. A former Contra Costa sheriff's deputy, Ricardo Perez, is facing a felony oral copulation with a minor charge in Alameda County.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in early September that her office had found evidence of crimes in other counties, including Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Joaquin.

"I am confident that the Chief of Police, the City manager and [Police Department] Office of Professional Accountability have done a thorough job and we are glad to put this investigation behind us," Mayor Butt said in a written statement. "In terms of discipline for the officers, this marks the beginning of a process which will continue to unfold."