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Former Contra Costa Deputy Charged with Sex with a Minor in Exploitation Case

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Ricardo Perez, a former Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy, was arraigned at the Hayward Hall of Justice on Sept. 30, 2016. for one charge of felony oral copulation with a minor and two misdemeanor counts for engaging in lewd conduct in a public place. A fourth charge of felony unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor has now been added. (Alex Emslie/KQED)

A former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with unlawful intercourse with the teenager at the center of a sexual misconduct case involving several Bay Area law enforcement agencies. The new felony charge against Ricardo Perez is the most serious charge filed against law officers involved with Jasmine Abuslin, also known as Celeste Guap.

Perez previously had been charged with one felony count of oral copulation with a minor and two misdemeanor counts of lewd conduct in public with Abuslin.

Alameda County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Rebecca Richardson acknowledged in an email Wednesday that "new evidence came to light" to support the more serious felony charge, filed Aug. 4, but refused to comment further.

Abuslin, now 19, testified against Perez in a preliminary hearing last month. She told the court that she had met the former sheriff's deputy for sex numerous times in July 2015 when she was 17 years old.

She testified that she didn't tell Perez that she was underage until several months later, after she turned 18.

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“I do not remember his words but I remember his attitude," Abuslin said of Perez when she told him she had been underage when they had sex. "It was like ‘whatever.' He did not seem shocked.”

Perez’s attorney, Joseph Motta, argued that his client didn’t know that Abuslin was underage, but retired Judge Joan Cartwright, who presided over the July 27 hearing, disagreed.

“She was clearly 17 years old when this was occurring,” Cartwright said from the bench.

"Perez’s conduct was raunchy and certainly bordering on pornographic activities," said noted civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing Abuslin in her civil claims for damages.  "He -- as an adult human being -- should’ve known better."

Six law enforcement officials have been charged with lesser crimes in connection with the broader case involving Abuslin’s relationships with officers from Oakland, Livermore, Richmond and San Francisco, as well as Alameda and Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputies, according to legal claims filed against those jurisdictions. The case also involves a former guard for a military equipment facility in Stockton who was fired late last year for soliciting sex and prostitution work from Abuslin after the case became public last summer.

Perez resigned from the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department shortly after the scandal emerged.  He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court in Dublin.

KQED's Alex Emslie contributed reporting to this story.

The original version of this report misidentified the judge presiding over the July 27 preliminary hearing in this case. It has been corrected to attribute retired Judge Joan Cartwright.

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