Activists asking if police will be charged in sex scandal

Posted at 2:58 PM, Aug 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-25 14:58:40-04

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Activists and relatives of a teenage woman at the center of a San Francisco Bay Area police sex scandal say they want to know if any of the more than two dozen law enforcement officials implicated earlier this year will face criminal charges.

The woman, who turned 19 on Thursday and says she works as a prostitute, told The Associated Press that she informed internal affairs investigators months ago that she had sex with three Oakland police officers and a Contra Costa County deputy before her 18th birthday.

In all, she said she has had sex with about 30 law enforcement officials, mostly during the past year. She said she received money during a few encounters and often traded sex for protection from arrest and tips on prostitution stings.

"The law is not being applied equally," said Leigh Davenport, a spokeswoman for the activist organization Anti Police-Terror Project. "If these guys weren't cops, they would have been charged."

The teen's grandmother and father also said they are frustrated that no charges have been filed.

The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes or their families.

The woman has retained text messages that appear to discuss sexual encounters with officers and has shared them with investigators and the media, including the AP.

Her allegations were widely reported more than three months ago.

The teen lives with her mother, an Oakland police dispatcher, who has not returned numerous phone and email inquiries seeking comment. The teen said she is enrolling Friday in an in-patient drug treatment program in Miami.

The Alameda County district attorney's office is leading the criminal investigation and spokeswoman Rebecca Richardson declined to comment.

District Attorney Nancy O'Malley has fired an investigator in her office who was implicated in the scandal and said she hoped to have the investigation wrapped up by the end of August.

"We are being very sensitive to the young women who has been exploited and been hurt," O'Malley said on Aug. 9. "We are working diligently."

The activists want officers charged with statutory rape, human trafficking and pandering.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said she is monitoring the investigation.

"The allegations of misconduct are extremely disturbing," said Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for the attorney general. "There must be swift and clear accountability for any wrongdoing."

One of the three Oakland officers accused by the teen committed suicide in October, leaving behind a note discussing his relationship with her. The two other Oakland officers and the Contra Costa County deputy have resigned.

Most of the implicated officers work in Oakland, which has placed three other officers on leave. In June, the department cycled through three chiefs in 10 days when the teen's allegations were first reported in the media.

The woman also identified six Richmond police officers as participants in the misconduct.

Civic activist Ben Steinberg, a member of the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission, has launched a petition demanding that Harris take over the investigation of the officers who work for the Richmond Police Department, which has launched an internal inquiry.

"I do not have confidence in the RPD's investigation," Steinberg said. "There needs to be an independent investigation outside police and city control to determine if laws and policies were broken."

The teen told the AP in June that she didn't want anyone to get in trouble and regretted that the sexual encounters became public. She later declined to answer text messages asking if her position has changed.

She did say this week that the Richmond Police Department through the Contra Costa County Family Justice Center had arranged for her to enroll in the Miami drug treatment program.

She said the department told her the monthlong program was paid for through a fund for crime victims.

Steinberg and other police critics questioned the department's motivation for offering the help during its investigation. Police Lt. Felix Tan declined comment, citing confidentiality laws.

Mayor Tom Butt said there's nothing nefarious about the assistance. The woman was sent out of state to get away from bad influences and "baggage" surrounding the scandal, he said.