Former Contra Costa County Sheriff's Deputy Ricardo Perez pleaded not guilty Friday to felony oral copulation with a minor and two misdemeanor counts for lewd conduct in a public place -- charges stemming from alleged sex acts with the Richmond teenager at the center of a widespread police sexual exploitation case.
Perez resigned in June as accusations surfaced that some 30 law enforcement officials from at least seven Bay Area agencies had sex with the now-19-year-old woman who worked in the sex trade -- some while she was still a minor.
If he's found guilty, Perez would be required to register as a sex offender.
Charging documents allege that Perez "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" and "it appeared 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."
"Fish Ranch Road, I haven't been there since high school," Judge Joseph Carson said, before declining the prosecution's request for a $60,000 bail and releasing Perez on his own recognizance.
"His judgment was that this defendant, charged with felony sexual exploitation of a minor on multiple occasions, did not deserve to have to post bail," civil rights attorney Pamela Price said after the hearing. Price is representing the woman, whose name is Jasmine Abuslin, in legal claims against multiple jurisdictions charging that police sexually exploited and trafficked her.
Joseph Motta, Perez's attorney, told the judge his client had cooperated throughout the investigation and was not a flight risk.
"He certainly lost his job over this case," Motta said. "He’s been a lifelong resident of this area. He poses no danger to the community, your honor."
Oakland police Officer Brian Bunton was arraigned last week on a felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for allegedly tipping Abuslin off to an undercover prostitution operation in exchange for sex. He was also charged with engaging in an act of prostitution, a misdemeanor. Bunton's bail was set at $12,500.
Alameda County prosecutors have charged or plan to charge seven current and former law enforcement officers from Oakland and Livermore police departments and the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office. When District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced her intent to prosecute, she said her office's investigation indicated crimes in other counties.
"We actually haven’t heard from San Francisco, so we are hopeful that they will be in touch with us," Price said, adding that the Contra Costa County district attorney "had not decided about whether he would change his position" on pursing criminal charges there.
Price said her client continues to cooperate with prosecutions, but it's taxing, and the State Attorney General's Office should take over the case.
"Now we’re faced with the prospect where Jasmine has to talk to Alameda County, she has to talk to Contra Costa County, she has to talk to San Francisco County, and who knows how far this will go," Price said.