RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — The mayor of Richmond is disputing allegations by the attorney for the woman at the center of a Bay Area law enforcement sex scandal, who claimed Wednesday Richmond Police fooled her into leaving the state for drug rehabilitation in what amounts to witness tampering.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said attorneys for the woman once known as Celeste Guap – who now has dropped the alias for her real name, Jasmine Abuslin – are “grandstanding.”
Abuslin, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and was released from a Florida jail Wednesday. She was charged with biting a security guard at a rehab clinic.
Butt told KPIX 5 the city’s decision to send Abuslin to Florida was appropriate and that the accusation by her lawyer that it was witness tampering was “hyperbole.”
“It’s not like they sent her somewhere and put her in a secret place where nobody knew where she was,” Butt said. “I mean, they basically told people ‘this is where she is’ and I’m sure the information was available to people who had a need to know. It’s hyperbole. She wasn’t secreted away … she was just in Florida, for goodness sake!”
Richmond police issued a report last week which concluded 7 officers had some involvement with Abuslin. Some will receive discipline, but the report concluded that no Richmond officers broke the law.
Abuslin’s lawyer, Pamela Price told reporters at a press conference Wednesday her client was brought to the rehab clinic “under false pretenses.”
“The kind of treatment this young woman needs is not drug rehabilitation,” said Price. “She is a victim of child sex trafficking. She is traumatized. She needs that kind of help.”
As for the city’s decision to send her to Florida for drug treatment, Mayor Butt said he thinks it was a good idea to get her out of town.
“You don’t want somebody with a drug problem to be hanging around the old neighborhood,” Butt said. “Getting somebody out of their environment seems like a good idea.”
“Everybody’s doing a little bit of grandstanding,” Butt continued.
“The Alameda County District Attorney was criticizing Richmond for it, trying to make it like because the witness was in Florida she couldn’t file charges,” said Butt. “That doesn’t make any sense. You don’t need somebody at your elbow to file charges. There are all kids of ways to get information from witnesses.”
“The lawyers who went to pick her up in Florida … I hope their reasons for doing so are the best. But lawyers being lawyers … maybe they are also interested in fame and fortune.”
“I think they are grandstanding for their own selfish reasons. That said, I hope at the end of the day whatever happens to her will change her life and make it better.”