Update 2:35 pm Thursday: A retired Oakland Police Captain was formally charged with a prostitution related offense on Wednesday. Al Perrodin, 81, faces a single misdemeanor for soliciting a prostitute in Contra Costa County.
The charge is based on allegations by Jasmine Abuslin, the teenager at the center of a widespread police exploitation scandal. Prosecutors also reviewed text and Facebook messages between Abuslin and Perrodin.
Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson said last week that Perrodin admitted to paying Abuslin for sex at a hotel in Richmond in February, 2016.
The former homicide captain told KTVU Wednesday he did not admit to any wrongdoing.
Original post, 11 a.m. Friday Nov. 4 A retired octogenarian Oakland police captain is the only officer who will face prosecution in Contra Costa County for allegations related to a law enforcement sexual exploitation case affecting several Bay Area agencies, District Attorney Mark Peterson announced Friday.
He said the charging decision was based in part on more than 24 hours of recorded interviews that six law enforcement agencies conducted with the Richmond teen at the center of the case, Jasmine Abuslin.
"The evidence that we were given -- the information that was given to us by Ms. Abuslin herself -- does not warrant charges other than the one retired Oakland captain," who will be charged with engaging in prostitution, Peterson said at a press conference in Martinez.
Abuslin, who is now 19 years old, has said she had sex with some 30 law enforcement officers in the past few years, some while she was underage. She has said all the officers and deputies knew she worked in the sex trade, and some tipped her off to undercover prostitution operations or shared confidential law enforcement information with her. There are also indications that Abuslin -- whose pseudonym is Celeste Guap -- has been a victim of child sexual exploitation and trafficking in and around the East Bay since the age of 12.
"It’s reprehensible, it’s immoral, it’s inappropriate, shouldn’t be done, it’s shocking," Peterson said of what he characterized as consensual sex between Abuslin and law enforcement officers from around the Bay Area. "But is it a crime?"
Prosecutors' broad review of the case focused on potential crimes involving more than a dozen officers from San Francisco, Richmond and Oakland, as well as a former deputy with the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office. Officers who knowingly had sex with Abuslin before she turned 18 could be charged with crimes, including rape. The former deputy, Ricardo Perez, and Oakland police Officer Giovanni LoVerde are both facing charges of felony oral copulation with a minor in neighboring Alameda County.
But Contra Costa County prosecutors were unable to determine whether any sexual encounters between officers and Abuslin in their county occurred before she turned 18. And even if they could, Peterson said, it's an "absolute defense" if the officers reasonably believed she was an adult.
"There were no crimes involving former Deputy Perez with Ms. Abuslin except for the possible crime of her engaging in sex with him when she was under 18," Peterson said. "But as I've indicated, we can't prove that charge."
Contra Costa County prosecutors also looked at charging officers for engaging in prostitution, and they are charging a yet-to-be-named former Oakland police captain with that misdemeanor for allegedly paying Abuslin for sex. But as for any other officers, the evidence did not indicate that there was an exchange of cash or anything else of value for sex, Peterson said.
"She has also made statements that she’s a sex addict," Peterson said, "which is an indication perhaps that she wasn’t doing this for money."
Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves, who supervises the Contra Costa DA's sexual assault unit, said there was no indication that officers explicitly traded protection for sex with Abuslin.
"I’m sure that is part of her motivation," he said. "If you think about it, this community failed her for a long time. A lot of people failed her. So yeah, the security of having police officers and having somebody looking out for you, absolutely, but whether that was communicated as a quid pro quo: No."
The Contra Costa district attorney's investigation found no chargeable crimes against two San Francisco police officers brought to the office's attention by SFPD's investigation. Abuslin has said she had sex with three SFPD officers, all after she turned 18.
"While the actions of the officers did not result in criminal charges, they will now undergo an administrative investigation by the SFPD Internal Affairs Division," a written statement released by SFPD says.
Friday's announcement marks the end of the Contra Costa district attorney's second investigation into the case. Oakland police investigators presented the office in May with a potential charge of attempted forcible sodomy against former OPD Officer Terryl Smith that allegedly occurred in Richmond. The office declined to file charges.
"What we’re talking about specifically in that case was consensual acts that took place immediately preceding this alleged attempted forcible sex act, and consensual acts that occurred immediately after this alleged attempted forcible sex act," Graves said. "I'm not at liberty to disclose to you the actual facts. Out of respect for the victim, we're not going to do that. If you heard what I heard, you would understand."
The Contra Costa district attorney's decision indicates a different approach to the case than that of neighboring Alameda County, where six current and former law enforcement officers are facing a range of criminal charges.
When she announced those charges Sept. 9, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley criticized other agencies' facilitation of Abuslin's travel to a rehabilitation clinic in Florida, which removed a witness in the case from the state.
Peterson said Friday that his office, along with the Richmond Police Department and state Victim Compensation Board, facilitated Abuslin's short-lived stint across the country. Abuslin was eligible for the crime victim funding because of a "crime which took place several years ago and involved no law enforcement officer," according to the Contra Costa DA's investigative summary.
"Due to Ms. Abuslin's ongoing privacy rights, we are limited as to what we can reveal concerning her travel to Florida," Peterson said. "However, it's abundantly clear that there was no scheme by any police agency nor by any other organization to secrete Ms. Abuslin out of California in order to hinder any local investigation or prosecution."
Graves pushed back against descriptions of the case presented by news media and Abuslin's civil attorneys that are not backed up by facts. He said Abuslin reached out to officers and deputies via Facebook, and she wasn't trafficked between them.
"There’s the media scenario, there’s the scenario for her attorneys, and then there’s the scenario that’s actually borne out by the facts in these 30 hours of interviews that I listened to," he said. "The story that these officers were exchanging her and talking to each other is actually not borne out by the evidence that I reviewed, and I reviewed 79,000 pages on Facebook.”"
The neighboring counties also appear to diverge on charging officers for failing to report Abuslin's status as a potential victim of human trafficking or childhood sexual abuse.
Alameda County prosecutors charged former OPD Sgt. Leroy Johnson with failure to report child abuse or neglect because he didn't act after allegedly learning that Abuslin had sex with other officers before she turned 18.
"It’s certainly something that the police officers should have done," Peterson said. "If they know that she’s a sex worker, that she’s a prostitute, they shouldn’t be engaged in this activity and they also should be trying to help her get assistance for getting out of that situation."