OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A teenage woman at the heart of a sexual misconduct scandal said Wednesday that she’s “happy” that the Oakland City Council has approved paying nearly $1 million to settle her claim against officers who she alleged had violated her civil rights.
Speaking at a packed news conference at the office of her attorney John Burris, 19-year-old Jasmine Abuslin – formerly known as Celeste Guap – said, “I can now close this chapter and move on with my life.”
Abuslin said she wants to take classes related to animals because she loves working with them.
The City Council voted Tuesday night to pay $989,000 to settle the her claim, which was initially one of $66 million.
Burris said Abuslin, who’s the daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher, has also filed claims against the cities of Richmond, Livermore and San Francisco and Alameda and Contra Costa counties for alleged misconduct by officers in those jurisdictions.
Criminal charges have been filed against four former and current Oakland police officers for allegedly knowing about Abuslin’s claims but failing to inform supervisors, having sex with her when she was underage and giving her confidential police information.
Burris said his client “was abused and taken advantage of by a number of officers” from many law enforcement agencies, saying they were “passing her around like a kick ball.”
Burris said the officers who were involved “should be held to a high personal standard of integrity” but took advantage of her even though “they are supposed to protect young girls like this.”
The attorney said, “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.”
Abuslin said, “I didn’t think anybody cared” about what happened to her but feels “grateful” that her Oakland claim has been settled.
Burris, who said he and other attorneys who worked on her case will have their legal fees deducted from the settlement, said the money that Abuslin receives “will be utilized in such a way that benefits her training and security.”
Burris said he and others will help the teen “as she moves on in her life and is freed of the ravages of the Oakland Police Department.”
The woman testified two weeks ago at the preliminary hearing of former Oakland police Officer Brian Bunton, who will stand trial on a felony obstruction of justice charge and a misdemeanor prostitution charge, that she began working as a prostitute at the age of 12.
Abuslin said Wednesday that, “I’m a good person and I come from a good family” and Burris said “she’s been helped by the support she’s received from her family.”
Burris said the Oakland settlement “will have no carryover to the other departments” who face claims that have been filed on behalf of the woman.
He said he and other lawyers will be investigating further before pursuing litigation against those agencies.
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement that the settlement is fair.
Parker added, “Oakland is continuing its work to ensure that our Police Department is a model of constitutional and professional law enforcement. To achieve that goal, we must honestly acknowledge and assess violations of the public trust and take action to make sure they never happen again.”
City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said in a statement, “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.”
Kaplan said, “We need to ensure that we are building the conditions that make it possible to have trust and healing between the community and our law enforcement officers and cut sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse.”
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