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The Oakland City Council approved a settlement to pay nearly $1 million to a former prostitute who alleged that a parade of police officers used her for sex, including times when she was a minor.
Jasmine Absulin, formerly known as Celeste Guap, said that police in Oakland, Richmond, Livermore, and San Francisco, as well as Alameda and Contra Costa counties, were involved. She has filed claims for civil rights violations against the police agencies.
"Officers are supposed to protect young girls like this, not take advantage of them," her attorney John Burris said. "They were like wild rats that went from one department to the next department to the next department."
Sex for Information
The 19-year-old woman testified two weeks ago at the preliminary hearing of one former officer, Brian Bunton, who will stand trial on felony obstruction of justice and misdemeanor prostitution charges. Several officers face criminal charges in the scandal, which includes having sex with the woman when she was underage and giving her confidential police information about prostitution stings.
"Guap" said she began working as a prostitute when she was 12, and reportedly began having sex with police when she was 16. The daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher, she exposed some details on her Facebook page about a year ago.
An internal investigation at the department led to the resignation of the police chief and other departures. After the settlement announcement, City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan called for more changes.
"The magnitude of this scandal, not only the number of officers accused of sexual misconduct but the number that are alleged to have known about it and not done anything, suggests that we need fundamental culture change," she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Burris said he is pursuing claims against the other agencies. He said the officers abused his client and passed her around "like a kick ball."
"Each officer is responsible for his conduct but apparently they believed they were above the law and no one would care because her credibility was called into question," he said.
Absulin said she was happy with the settlement, and that she plans to go to school. "I can now close this chapter and move on with my life," she said.