Seven police officers to be charged in Oakland, California sex scandal

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Seven current and former San Francisco Bay Area law enforcement officers face charges in connection with a sex scandal that has rocked the Oakland Police Department, prosecutors said on Friday.

Three Oakland police chiefs resigned in quick succession in June, after news of the scandal involving a sexually exploited teen and police officers emerged in local media.

Five former and current officers with the Oakland Police Department, one former Livermore police officer, and a Contra Costa Sheriff's officer face charges for crimes ranging from oral copulation with a minor, engaging in prostitution, and unauthorized use of law enforcement databases, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said.

"Any person who engages in this type of behavior of sexual exploitation, ... particularly someone in authority ..., will be held accountable if we have the evidence," O'Malley told a news conference.

Current Oakland police officers Giovani LoVerde, Warit Utappa and Brian Bunton, as well as former officers Leroy Johnson and Tyrell Smith are to be charged.

LoVerde was to be charged with felony oral copulation with a minor, which O'Malley said was similar to statutory rape, and Bunton will be charged with a misdemeanor count of engaging in prostitution. The others faced charges of unauthorized database access and failure to report.

O'Malley said evidence indicated Smith and Utappa also had sex with the teen, but that conduct occurred in a county outside her jurisdiction.

Former Contra Costa Sheriff's officer Ricardo Perez faces charges of felony oral copulation and two counts of engaging in a lewd act in public. Former Livermore officer Dan Black is accused of two misdemeanor counts each of engaging in lewd acts in public and engaging in prostitution.

Related article: From Incest to Prostitution

None of the individuals are currently in custody, O'Malley said. The suspects could not be immediately reached for comment.

O'Malley said the officers to be charged with felonies could face as many as three years in state prison if convicted.

She said several officers from other departments were also implicated in the scandal but outside her reach as a prosecutor.

On Wednesday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced she had moved to fire four police officers and suspend seven more in connection with the scandal.

In June, the East Bay Express newspaper reported that as many as 21 officers from the Oakland Police Department and other law enforcement agencies had exploited the teenager, including some incidents while she was underage. Other media outlets have since published similar accounts.

Just a few bad apples:

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