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Teenager at center of Bay Area police sex crimes scandal to avoid jail on Florida charges

Oakland police have made no arrests and released no motive for the killing of Melvin Johnson.
Oakland police have made no arrests and released no motive for the killing of Melvin Johnson.
(Anda Chu / San Jose Mercury News)

A 19-year-old woman prosecutors say was the victim of sex crimes committed by Bay Area police officers will plead no contest to battery charges in Florida and face no additional jail time, possibly freeing her to return to California, where she is expected to be a key witness in the prosecution of at least seven East Bay law enforcement officials.

The woman, a Richmond resident, will plead no contest to simple battery Wednesday, defense attorney Richard Kibbey said. Under the terms of a plea deal with Florida prosecutors, she will face no additional jail time, Kibbey said.

The teen was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery Aug. 29 after she bit a security guard during a violent clash at the rehabilitation facility in Stuart, Fla., according to an arrest report. In Florida, aggravated battery carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison.

The Times generally withholds the identity of sex crimes victims. The woman is expected to hold a news conference in Florida around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

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Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy E. O’Malley said last week that she had delayed the filing of criminal charges against seven police officers in the ever-widening scandal because the teenager had been moved out of California for drug treatment. O’Malley has offered to pay for her return to the Bay Area, saying her presence is necessary to proceed with a prosecution.

Kibbey, who is only representing the woman in the Florida criminal case, declined to comment on whether she would return to California after Wednesday’s court proceedings.

Calls and emails to a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office and the Bay Area attorneys representing the woman were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

The woman, a self-described sex worker, made national headlines in June when she claimed in a television news interview to have had sex with more than a dozen Oakland police officers. She said some of the sexual encounters happened when she was too young to consent, and she accused officers of trading information about planned prostitution raids for sex acts.

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The scandal soon widened, and accusations were also made against several other East Bay law enforcement agencies, including the Richmond and Livermore police departments and the Contra Costa County and Alameda County sheriff’s departments.

Four Oakland police officers have been fired and seven others suspended since the scandal erupted. Police Chief Sean Whent also stepped down amid the controversy.

On Friday, O’Malley announced her intent to charge five current and former Oakland police officers with a wide array of criminal charges in connection with the woman’s claims. A Livermore police officer and a Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy, both of whom have since resigned from law enforcement, will also face criminal charges, O’Malley said.

The woman was sent to Florida for drug treatment in the summer using funds from the state’s victims compensation fund. That move was facilitated by a victim’s advocate employed by the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office who works at the headquarters of the Richmond Police Department, an agency the woman had made allegations against, Contra Costa County prosecutors said.

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O’Malley said her office was not consulted about the transfer, and both the district attorney and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have criticized the move.

Richmond Police have declined to comment on the woman’s move to Florida, but Police Chief Allwyn Brown addressed the controversy this week in a report summarizing the department’s internal investigation into her claims. In the report made public Monday, Brown said the decision to have the victim seek treatment in Florida was ultimately made in consultation with her family, not the police agency.

“Representations that we ‘sent’ this teenage witness away or had her ‘removed’ to Florida distort reality,” Brown wrote in the report.

Several Richmond Police officers face discipline and termination as a result of the woman’s allegations, according to the report, though Brown declined to offer specifics, citing state privacy laws regarding police discipline.

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james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.


UPDATES:

10:35 a.m.: This article was updated with the scheduling of a news conference in Florida by the alleged victim in the Bay Area police sex crimes case.

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This article was originally published on Sept. 13 at 9:40 p.m.


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