Ex-Richmond Police Lieutenant Swapped Sexually Explicit Texts With Exploited Teen

A screenshot of text messages exchanged between former Richmond police Lt. Andre Hill and 'Celeste Guap.'  (Via Contra Costa County Superior Court)

A former Richmond police lieutenant who ran the department’s Youth Services Division was fired in 2017 for swapping sexually explicit text messages while on duty and engaging in oral sex with the teen known as “Celeste Guap,” court records obtained by KQED reveal.

Yet Richmond hasn't released disciplinary records about former Lt. Andre Hill under the state's new police transparency law, Senate Bill 1421, which defines sexual assault against a member of the public broadly when a cop is on duty and requires such records be made public.

"These records fall squarely within the new transparency law,” said media law and open government attorney Michael Risher. “Here's a sustained finding against the officer for sexting on and off duty, and a specific factual finding that while he was on duty he sent text messages to an 18-year-old member of the public, which clearly fall within the definition of propositioning her for a sexual act.”

Richmond's deputy city attorney handling its disclosures under SB 1421 did not respond to messages Wednesday, nor did the City Attorney's Office. Richmond Mayor Tom Butt declined to comment due to ongoing litigation.

Guap, the daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher, was at the center of a vast police sexual exploitation case exposed in 2016 spanning several Bay Area departments, including in Richmond, where she lived. She has said she had sexual relationships with dozens of Bay Area officers in exchange for protection from arrest.

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Richmond previously released information about another officer, Terrance Jackson, who had a sexual encounter with Guap while he was on duty and won his job back on appeal, claiming nothing else was releasable under the new law.

Documents in a civil lawsuit Hill filed last year to get his job back show that an internal affairs investigation found he “engaged in sexual text messaging,” with Guap both on and off duty, over a few months starting in December 2015. Investigators also concluded that Hill “engaged in oral sex” off duty at Guap’s home on March 24, 2016.

Richmond authorities concluded that Hill’s actions, while legal, “reflected unfavorably upon the Department and its members,” especially given Hill’s position at the time as head of Richmond Police Department’s Youth Services Division.

While Hill’s relationship with Guap — and his firing — were previously known, the filings in lawsuit reveal new details about the case and disagreement between Richmond officials on how severely to discipline the former lieutenant.

Transcripts of the 324 text messages collected from Guap’s cellphone by the Oakland Police Department show Hill texted, “I want to play wit those titties” and asked Guap to “Send a pic of your nippes.”

Hill argued he didn’t know that Guap was a sex worker, but she told investigators he absolutely knew, because she told him.

In one text Guap wrote that she had been kidnapped three times in the past four years, “that’s why I keep to people in your profession.”

Investigators couldn’t conclusively prove that Hill knew Guap’s line of work, though.

Police Chief Allwyn Brown wanted to suspend Hill for 120 days.

But in a Jan. 17, 2017, termination notice to Hill, then-City Manager Bill Lindsay wrote that he could not accept the chief’s recommendation.

“The behavior described in the Internal Affairs report can only be described as predatory,” Lindsay wrote. “Termination is the appropriate level of discipline.”

In Jackson’s case, an internal investigation found he had engaged in predatory behavior toward the teen when he went to her house on duty and in uniform and fondled her vagina.

The city manager also fired Jackson, but his job was reinstated on appeal with 160 hours suspension.

An administrative law judge recommended similar leniency for Hill.

At a January 2018 hearing sealed from the public, Hill’s attorney Michael Rains said his client regretted accepting Guap’s friend request on Facebook, according to transcripts.

“He is sorry that he ever responded,” Rains argued, “and very sorry for his conduct.”

Rains didn’t respond to a request for comment.

At the hearing, however, he argued that termination was too severe for an employee who did not break the law.

“If he engaged in conduct that was lawful in every respect, that was consensual in every respect, that he thought was private in every respect,” Rains said, “how in the world does he get disciplined for conduct bringing disrepute to the department?”

Rains implored the judge to consider that Hill had no previous record of serious misconduct in his roughly 22 years of service with the Richmond Police Department.

Richmond’s attorney, Todd Simonson, argued that the city has the authority to fire Hill, especially in light of the lieutenant’s leadership of the Youth Services Division. Simonson told the administrative law judge that Guap was “an extremely troubled youth at the time, exactly the kind of youth that Lieutenant Hill’s divisions was supposed to protect and serve.”

Instead, Simonson said, Hill did the opposite.

“Lieutenant Hill’s first concern, according to the text messages that we’ll go through, was to play with Miss (Guap’s) breasts and secondarily, to verify that she was indeed 18 years old. In that order,” Simonson said.

Administrative law judge Jill Schlichtmann ultimately recommended that Hill should be reinstated, but demoted to the rank of police officer.

“(Hill’s) misconduct was very serious, however, it occurred during a short period of time during his 22 years at the department,” she wrote in a recommendation. “He has otherwise lived a law-abiding life and has given much to the people of Richmond.”

Unconvinced, Lindsay again concluded that firing was the proper discipline for Hill’s behavior.

Hill has now appealed in Contra Costa Superior Court. The next hearing in that case is scheduled for Oct. 16.

Thomas Peele of the Bay Area News Group contributed to this report.

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This story was produced as part of the California Reporting Project, a collaboration of 40 newsrooms across the state to obtain and report on police misconduct and serious use-of-force records unsealed in 2019.