HAYWARD (CBS SF) – One of five Oakland police officers charged in a sex scandal that has rocked several law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area pleaded not guilty Friday to a felony obstruction charge and a misdemeanor prostitution charge.
The scandal is centered around Jasmine Abuslin, the former sex worker who previously identified herself by the name “Celeste Guap.”
She claims she slept with dozens of police officers, including some while she was underage. Those claims triggered internal affairs investigations at several Bay Area law enforcement agencies.
She claims she has had sex with 30 Bay Area officers, four of them before she turned 18.
Brian Bunton, 40, is accused of warning Abuslin to stay away from an intersection known for prostitution because of an ongoing police operation.
Bunton allegedly provided Abuslin information about an undercover sting happening on East 14th Street in Oakland during a specific evening.
According to the court documents, the victim said Bunton received sex in exchange for the information.
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Bunton did not comment to reporters after the hearing, but his lawyer Dirk Manoukian told local media outlets that his client has expressed remorse and took responsibility for some of the actions.
The attorney would not say what actions he took responsibility for.
Bunton graduated from the police academy last year. It is his second career. He has a wife and children.
“He understands there are consequences and those are going on right now,” said Manoukian.
Bunton’s attorney said he is still employed by the Oakland Police Department, since he hasn’t been convicted of any crime.
The city of Oakland would not say if Bunton is currently patrolling the streets or on paid leave.
Bunton will have to surrender at Santa Rita Jail by Monday. He is expected to pay the bail of $12,500 that was set by the judge Friday.
Abuslin’s lawyers say the teen is no longer working as a prostitute and was a victim of sex trafficking. She is now receiving psychological care at Stanford University.
Last week, her attorneys filed a $66 million claim seeking punitive damages from the city of Oakland.
Earlier in September, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley filed criminal charges against the first two of the seven police officers she plans to prosecute in the case.
Former Livermore police officer Dan Black, 49, who resigned his post, is charged with two counts of engaging in prostitution, two counts of performing lewd acts, and one count of giving alcohol to a person under 21.
The crimes allegedly occurred in Berkeley in April after Black bought dinner for the woman, according to the charges.
Retired Oakland police officer Leroy Johnson is charged with failing to report suspected child abuse in September 2015 after the teenager told him in a Facebook message that she had engaged in sex with other Oakland officers and was underage in some of the encounters.
Abuslin was in Puerto Rico with her mother – an Oakland police dispatcher — at the time, according to the complaint, which said that Johnson was a family friend of both mother and daughter.
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The complaint signed by Deputy District Attorney Sabrina Farrell alleges that after she sent Johnson the message, he wrote back, “Tell me you were and (sic) adult,” and she responded, “I’d be lying.”
As an officer, Johnson had a mandatory duty to report suspected child abuse.
Both Black and Johnson are scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on Oct. 4. The crimes they are accused of are misdemeanors.