OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — The city of Oakland fired four police officers involved in a sex scandal that has roiled the city's police department and extended to several other law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the firings along with other disciplinary actions affecting a total of 11 members of the Oakland Police Department, saying the department's lengthy and exhaustive investigation into the allegations concluded that several officers engaged in sexual activity with a teenager referred to as Celeste Guap.
"The outcomes in this case will root out misconduct, encourage a culture of transparency and continue the work of restoring trust," Schaaf in announcing the disciplinary actions on Wednesday evening.
The four fired officers were found to have engaged in attempted sexual assault, lewd public behavior, assisting in the crime of prostitution, assisting in helping evade prosecution, accessing law enforcement databases for personal gain and lying to investigators.
Revelations in several reports assert the officers not only engaged in sex with Guap, which is an online alias, but also divulged privileged information regarding prostitution stings — in some cases trading sexual favors for information that helped Guap avoid potential police snares.
Additionally, seven members of the department were suspended after they were found to have accessed police databases for personal gain, failed to report crimes or violations of departmental rules and brought disrepute to the Oakland Police Department, according to the mayor's statement.
The termination and suspension of the officers is the culmination of a year-long investigation that began in September 2015 and entailed interviews with more than 50 witnesses, including 11 different interviews with Guap.
Members of the police department's internal affairs unit and investigators from the City Attorney's office spearheaded the investigation, but the city also enlisted the services of an independent law firm to determine whether the department's investigation of its own officers was appropriate, Schaaf said.
The sex scandal broke earlier this year and intensified when former Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent resigned following Guap's allegations.
Guap, 19, is the daughter of a police dispatcher. She said she had sex with approximately a dozen police officers in the Oakland Police Department alone. Three of those officers may have had sex with her when she was a minor.
Schaaf said the Alameda District Attorney's Office will conduct a separate investigation to determine whether criminal charges will be brought.
Community activists have begun pressuring officials to arrest the officers involved.
"The law is not being applied equally," Leigh Davenport, a spokeswoman for the activist organization Anti Police-Terror Project, told the Associated Press in late August. "If these guys weren't cops, they would have been charged."
The scandal is not restricted to Oakland Police Department. As many as five Richmond Police officers are also implicated in the scandal, and an officer with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office also linked to the scandal was fired last month.
An officer from the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office also resigned over allegations that he had inappropriate relations with Guap, who has told investigators she had sex with as many as 30 police officers in the Bay Area.
Guap was arrested at a Florida rehabilitation center last week, raising questions whether local law enforcement agencies squirreled her out of California to quell the scandal surrounding the multiple law enforcement departments.
In May, Guap mentioned former Oakland officer Brendan O'Brien in a Facebook post. O'Brien committed suicide in 2015. His suicide note mentioned Guap and the far-reaching implications of the scandal.
A year before O'Brien's suicide, his wife died. While her death was ruled a suicide, a homicide investigation was briefly opened, and her family maintains that O'Brien killed her and made it look like a suicide.
The Oakland Police Department has a long history of scandals, including one dating back a decade to the "Riders Scandal," in which four officers were found to have kidnapped citizens, assaulted them and planted evidence while the department turned a blind eye.
The department has since been placed under judicial oversight, with U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson tasked with ensuring departmental reforms are on track. Henderson expressed dismay with the latest scandal in March, issuing a one-page order criticizing the department's internal affairs department for its handling of the investigation.
"This case raises most serious concerns that may well impact [the department's] ability to demonstrate their commitment to accountability and sustainability — both of which are key to ending court oversight," Henderson wrote in the order.
After Whent resigned, a procession of chiefs came and went within a four-day period, before an embattled Schaaf finally appointed City Manger Sabrina Landreth as the administrator in charge of the police department while allowing the ranking assistant chief to manage the tactical side.
This arrangement persists as the city has yet to find a permanent replacement for Whent and his successors.
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