Key witness in police scandal returns to Bay Area, ready to sue, her lawyers say
on September 16, 2016
The teenager at the center of a sex scandal involving multiple police departments has returned to the Bay Area, according to her attorneys. At a press conference Thursday morning, civil rights attorneys Charles Bonner and Pamela Price said they are planning to sue “everyone involved” in sending her to Florida and in her alleged sexual exploitation.
The two attorneys leveled a series of explosive allegations at Bay Area police departments and prosecutors. They asserted that the young woman, known in press accounts as “Celeste Guap,” was taken to Florida against her will, housed in an inadequate treatment facility and injected with unknown drugs. They also accused police officials of failing to adequately discipline the officers who had sex with her, as well as the officers who were aware of her exploitation but failed to report it.
Last week, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said at a press conference that she is seeking to fire four officers and suspend seven others. On Friday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced that she is planning to file charges against seven officers involved in the scandal, five of them from the Oakland Police Department. Shortly after that, O’Malley said she could not file charges until Guap returned to the Bay Area from Florida because Guap is the key witness in the case.
Now that Guap has returned, the charges presumably can proceed.
But Guap’s attorneys said the mayor’s and district attorney’s actions are not enough. They want a broader investigation, including one that investigates whether members of the Richmond Police Department were involved in sending Guap to Florida.
“There was obstruction of justice at the highest level. There was obstruction of justice that is not going to be prosecuted,” Price said.
The two attorneys accused the Richmond Police Department of sending Guap to Florida in order to interfere with O’Malley’s ability to charge the officers and with any ongoing investigations being conducted by other agencies. Richmond officers were among those accused of having improper sexual relations with Guap, but an internal investigation by the department cleared all Richmond officers of criminal liability. Speaking at the press conference, Bonner called the department’s investigation into its own officers a case of “the fox watching the henhouse.”
Bonner said Guap didn’t want to go to Florida, but was convinced by members of the Richmond Police Department. “They put her on a plane. They flew her 3,000 miles away to Florida. There was someone waiting in the airport with her name on a little piece of paper. Those two people put her into a car, drove two hours north and never said a word,” he said.
Bonner said the men transporting Guap to the treatment facility denied her request to call her father.
Richmond Police Department officials did not respond before press time to requests for comment on these accusations.
Following an incident at the rehab facility in which she allegedly bit a security guard, Guap was taken to a Martin County, Florida, jail and charged with felony aggravated battery. The charge was later downgraded to a misdemeanor and Guap was released on a plea deal.
An incident report from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office states Guap exited the rehab facility and “removed the clothing covering her chest and began flashing passing motorists.” The report states that Guap was then brought back inside the facility, at which point she allegedly bit a security guard.
Price and Bonner disputed the report’s version of events. They said Guap attempted to leave the facility, believing that she was staying there voluntarily. “She said to these people, you know, ‘I would like to call my dad,’ and they said ‘No,’” Bonner said. “And she said, ‘I’m leaving here.’”
At that point, according to Bonner, Guap was surrounded by ten employees of the facility. One of them grabbed her from behind, and Guap bit him in an attempt to escape. At that point, Bonner said, facility employees “injected her with something that she still doesn’t know what it is.” Bonner and Price said they are working with a medical facility to attempt to determine what the substance was.
Price said Guap is prepared to meet with O’Malley as soon as the district attorney returns from vacation. Yesterday Contra Costa District Attorney Mark A. Peterson reached out to Guap’s lawyers, showing interest in an investigation, according to Price.
Peterson did not return a call seeking information about whether his office plans to conduct an investigation.
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