A former Contra Costa sheriff's deputy was arraigned Thursday under suspicion of unlawful sex with a minor, which carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.
It's the most serious charge yet against several law enforcement officers accused of exploiting Jasmine Abuslin, a Richmond teenager who may have been the victim of child sex trafficking.
The defendant, Ricardo Perez -- dressed in a crisp gray suit -- waited in a Dublin courtroom for over an hour before pleading "not guilty" to the latest charge.
The former deputy resigned last year shortly after allegations surfaced that he had sex with the teen.
In June 2016, the Alameda County district attorney filed criminal charges against six law enforcement officers, including Perez.
Initially the most serious charge he faced was felony oral copulation with a minor and two misdemeanors for lewd conduct.
But at a recent hearing, Abuslin -- also known as Celeste Guap -- testified that Perez had intercourse with her numerous times before she turned 18.
Prosecutors filed the new felony charge last week, citing new evidence in the case.
Attorney Joseph Motta asked an Alameda County judge Thursday to schedule a hearing to consider dismissing the case against Perez. Motta said there’s “insufficient evidence” to prosecute his client -- something he hopes to prove when Perez returns to court in October. Motta argued at Perez's preliminary hearing that there was no way he could have or should have known Abuslin was underage.
On the elevator ride down from the courtroom, Perez stared straight ahead and did not respond to questions.
Brian Bunton, a former Oakland police officer accused of felony conspiracy to obstruct justice and engaging in an act of prostitution, heads to court Aug. 16, where his defense plans to argue for dismissal of the charges.
Read the updated charges against Perez below.