Accuser in Oakland police sex abuse scandal settles claim for nearly $1 million

The woman who alleged last year that she had sex with more than a dozen Oakland police officers has settled a claim against the city for approximately $1 million, according to her attorney and the City Council.

The accusations made last year by a 19-year-old Richmond woman, who has asked to be identified only as Jasmine, sparked national outrage and sent shock waves through the Oakland Police Department and Bay Area law enforcement community. Some of the encounters, Jasmine said, happened while she was underage. She also claimed officers gave her information about planned police raids in exchange for sex.

A series of investigations that began last summer has led to criminal charges against seven Bay Area law enforcement officers, the departure of Police Chief Sean Whent and discipline against several other Oakland officers. Investigators with the Alameda County district attorney’s office and the Richmond Police Department were also fired amid fallout from the scandal.

“I feel happy that I can close this chapter and move on with my life,” Jasmine said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The Los Angeles Times does not normally name victims of sexual crimes, but Jasmine has repeatedly identified herself during a number of public appearances and interviews. She was initially known by the pseudonym “Celeste Guap.” On Wednesday, she asked that reporters only identify her by her first name going forward.

The city agreed to settle her claim for up to $989,000 during a City Council meeting, according to the council’s website. The vote did not take place until around 2 a.m. Wednesday, passing 7 to 1, said civil rights attorney John Burris, who represents Jasmine.

“The settlement occurred with no admission of liability, but obviously, if you pay $1 million, you figure you got some responsibility,” he said in a statement.

The dissenting vote came from Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who wanted Jasmine to receive a larger settlement, according to Councilman Noel Gallo.

A formal lawsuit was never filed, Burris said. A notice of claim was filed with the city last year, while Jasmine was represented by a different attorney. Burris said he still may bring claims against the San Francisco, Livermore and Richmond police departments, as well as the Alameda and Contra Costa county sheriff’s departments. Jasmine has made claims against officers in each agency, Burris said.

On Wednesday, Burris referred to the officers as a “cabal” that took advantage of a young woman.

“People were passing her around as if she was a kickball or something,” Burris said.

In a statement, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the city is committed to moving forward from the scandal and fostering a culture of accountability and transparency within its police department.

“We remain focused on rebuilding the public trust that was so damaged by this incident,” she said.

The lurid details of the scandal stretch back to September 2015, when a suicide note left by an Oakland police officer suggested he had been engaged in a sexual relationship with a young sex worker in the city’s troubled Fruitvale neighborhood, which includes International Boulevard, Oakland’s main prostitution stroll.

The investigation widened in the summer, when Jasmine, then publicly known by another name, told a television reporter that she had sex with more than a dozen members of the Oakland Police Department as well as officials with other law enforcement agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy O’Malley announced charges last September against five Oakland police officers, a former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy and a retired Livermore police officer in connection with the investigation.

In January, former Oakland Police Officer Leroy Johnson pleaded no contest to failure to report sexual misconduct with a minor, according to Assistant Dist. Atty. Teresa Drenick. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to stay away from Jasmine, Drenick said. Retired Livermore Police Officer Dan Black pleaded no contest to solicitation of lewd conduct in February, according to Drenick. His judgment was deferred, and the case will be dismissed in May 2018 if he successfully completes probation, the prosecutor said.

Four former Oakland police officers and a former Contra Costa County deputy still face charges in the case. Two of them are charged with having oral sexual interactions with Jasmine while she was underage.

Earlier this year, Schaff selected Anne Kirkpatrick, a former high-ranking officer in Chicago who also once served as chief of the Spokane, Wash., Police Department, to lead the agency.

The scandal proved to be a serious blow to Oakland’s police department, which has operated under a federal monitor since 2003 as the result of a prior excessive force scandal. Whent, who had been credited with helping the city make serious reductions in violent crime, resigned shortly after Jasmine’s interview.

Two other interim chiefs were selected, and almost immediately dismissed, in the following week. Schaaf eventually decided to place the department under civilian control.

Burris, a longtime critic of the department, said it has a long way to go to regain the trust it lost as a result of the scandal.

“How did we create this culture where so many in the department either were willing to engage in or hide sexual misconduct?” he said in the statement. “It seems we need to rebuild the department with more women and more respect.”

Gallo, the councilman who represents the Fruitvale neighborhood where Jasmine has said her encounters with city police officers began, said he hoped the settlement would be the first step in a long healing process for the woman. In recent months she has taken part in anti-sex trafficking initiatives in the Fruitvale neighborhood, he said.

“I admire her for where she is today, and certainly all the attention is challenging, but she’s looking for direction,” Gallo said. “And that’s what we’re trying to provide her.”

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT on Twitter for crime and police news in California.

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UPDATES:

3:05 p.m.: This article was updated with additional comments from the accuser, Jasmine, and her attorney, John Burris.

12:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

12:15 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the criminal cases against officers charged in the scandal from the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

This article was originally published at 11:10 a.m.

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