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Three more Bay Area law enforcement officers charged in sex crimes scandal

An Oakland police officer and a former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy were formally charged with sex crimes Monday stemming from allegations made by a teenage trafficking victim who has said she slept with dozens of Bay Area law enforcement officers, according to court records.

Giovani LoVerde, 34, and Ricardo Perez, 28, were both charged with felony oral copulation with a minor and would be forced to register as sex offenders if convicted, according to court documents released by the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

Perez also faces two charges of engaging in lewd conduct in public. Another Oakland police officer, Brian Bunton, 40, was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly leaking information about planned prostitution raids to the teenager in exchange for sex.

Two other officers were formally charged with crimes linked to the scandal last week, and two more are expected to be charged, according to the district attorney’s office.

Perez and LoVerde are set to be arraigned Sept. 30. Bunton is due in court Friday. Attempts to contact the officers and their attorneys have been unsuccessful.

The charges are the latest turn in a sex crimes scandal that has roiled the Bay Area law enf orcement community for months. Oakland officials say they have been investigating the controversy for more than a year, but the matter gained national attention in June, when 19-year-old Jasmine Abuslin said in a televised news interview that she had sex with at least a dozen Oakland police officers.

In all, four Oakland police officers have been fired and seven others have been suspended as a result. The revelations could also prolong federal oversight of the agency, which has operated under a court-appointed watchdog since 2003 to settle a brutality scandal.

The Times does not normally identify the victims of sex crimes, but Abuslin’s name has been widely publicized by her attorneys and she appeared in public during a news conference last week.

According to court documents filed by the district attorney’s office, Perez admitted having sex with the teen several times in the summer of 2015, including at least one encounter when she would have been 17 years old. Abuslin did not turn 18 until Aug. 25, 2015, according to public records.

She told investigators she had sex with Perez, a former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy, about 10 times in the Oakland Hills in June or July 2015, when she was 17 years old, according to court documents.

Perez told detectives he had sex with her “between 5 to 7 days” after Aug. 18, 2015, a time frame that would place the sex acts very close to the date of Abuslin’s 18th birthday, according to a court declaration filed by the district attorney’s office. Two of the sex acts occurred in a public place, according to the document.

LoVerde, who has been identified as an Oakland police officer, is charged with receiving oral sex from the teen inside an apartment entryway near Lake Merritt in Oakland in July 2015, according to court records. She would have been 17 at the time of that encounter. He told investigators he never met her in person, according to a probable cause statement filed by the district attorney’s office. 

Prosecutors accused Bunton of warning the victim about a planned prostitution raid along International Boulevard, one of Oakland’s most infamous prostitution strolls, on March 5, 2016, according to court records. The teen provided investigators with screenshots of her communications with Bunton, who was nicknamed “Superman” in her cellphone contacts list, to support her claims. Prosecutors contend she performed a sex act on Bunton in exchange for the warning, according to court records.

Bunton was also charged with agreeing to engage in prostitution based on a March 7, 2015, text message exchange with her. In the messages, Bunton told her she “needed a better manager” after she complained about not making enough money as a sex worker, according to a probable cause statement.

An email sent to a spokesperson for the city of Oakland inquiring about the work status of the officers was not immediately returned. City officials have declined to name the officers who were fired as part of an internal review of the scandal, citing state laws that protect the privacy of officers accused of departmental misconduct.

james.queally@latimes.com

For more breaking crime and cops news in Southern California, follow me on Twitter: @JamesQueallyLAT

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