Two Oakland police officers accused of crimes related to sexual misconduct in two separate cases pleaded not guilty in a Hayward courtroom on Friday.
Giovanni LoVerde faces a felony for oral copulation with a minor, a charge that stems from the widespread police exploitation scandal involving a Richmond teenager.
Prosecutors say LoVerde first interacted with the now 19-year-old Jasmine Abuslin online in July 2015 — about a month before she turned 18 — and during that month the two engaged in the sex act in the entryway of an apartment near Lake Merritt.
Defense attorney Michael Cardoza said his client never saw the teenager in person.
“He never met her," Cardoza said to reporters after the hearing.
"He never had sex with her, but yet he’s accused of it and I understand the volatility of those charges. You hear that and everybody jumps to ‘cop guilty!’ " he said. "You’re all wrong.”
Cardoza similarly disputed the charges against his other client, OPD Officer Ryan Walterhouse, who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sleeping with a sex worker in October and then tipping her off to undercover operations.
At his arraignment Friday, Walterhouse pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct of justice and a misdemeanor for engaging in prostitution.
Walterhouse confessed to providing the unidentified woman with the sting information when he was arrested, according to charging documents in the case.
The charges against Walterhouse are unrelated to the sexual exploitation scandal surrounding Abuslin, officials said Thursday.
The teenager, also known as Celeste Guap, has said she had sex with approximately 30 law enforcement officers in the Bay Area, and some of those interactions occurred before she turned 18.
Four other current and former Oakland police officers are facing criminal charges in the case. Civil claims on behalf of Abuslin filed in Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, Livermore and Alameda County seek a combined $150 million in damages.
Cardoza questioned Abuslin's testimony about LoVerde. In documents filed in court Friday, he argued that the woman twice told investigators she never had sex with LoVerde, and made that claim only when the district attorney began to investigate.
"I really believe there are politics involved here," he said. "The police officers are targets nowadays, even with a district attorney's office."