Badge of Dishonor: Top Oakland Police Department Officials Looked Away as East Bay Cops Sexually Exploited and Trafficked a Teenager 

'Based on the information shared through this story, it appears that this young woman was the victim of trafficking.'

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Numerous OPD initiatives to save children from sex trafficking have been adopted by other police departments across the nation. And other East Bay agencies — including the Richmond police and Alameda County Sheriff's Office — have been deeply involved in OPD's efforts to stop the sexual exploitation of children.

Katherine Koster, an organizer with the Sex Workers Outreach Project, a national group that supports people in the sex trade, said that it's difficult to define a sexual relationship between a cop and a sex worker as consensual, even when both parties say it is. "Some of these cops might not be predatory, but the criminalization of sex work, and the sting operations against sex workers, creates a system that promotes these kinds of inherently exploitative relationships," she said.

For example, Koster pointed to evidence, first published by the Express last week, that Guap was tipped off by some of the police officers she had sex with about undercover operations.

Even if the cop isn't actively seeking out opportunities to exploit sex workers, criminalization creates a situation where the police have a lot of power — information about stings, the discretion to arrest or not arrest someone, which ads on Backpage to call. Koster said this creates situations where sex workers exchange favors to shield themselves from arrest or other harms at the hands of law enforcement.

Koster said that what happened to Guap is best defined in her own words. "It's an injustice to people who say they consented to things to doubt what they're actually telling you," she explained. "This may have made sense to her and she viewed these police officers as people who were helping her."

But Koster said this doesn't negate the fact that the police officers broke the law if they slept with her when she was a minor. Later, when she was eighteen, others helped her evade arrest, which Koster described as a "coercive situation."

No matter how one parses the legal and ethical aspects of the case, Lutnick said the scandal involves multiple departments across jurisdictions, and that this "highlights the need for a hard look at the cultures within police departments."

Not Just Rookie Cops

Throughout 2015, Guap worked along International Boulevard in East Oakland, and out of hotels in Oakland and Richmond. She said that on-duty police officers would see her on the street and solicit her for sex. She met other cops online.

Previously, city and police officials had blamed rookie cops for this bad behavior. Schaaf and Whent characterized it as "off-duty" conduct. But Guap said high-level current and former Oakland police also contacted her through Facebook and text messages, apparently seeking sex.

One retired Oakland police captain contacted Guap through Facebook. She said the two began talking beginning in 2015, when she was still underage. But she was eighteen years old in December of last year when the retired captain met her in a hotel on San Pablo Dam Road in Richmond, where he paid $250 for sex.

The Express called the retired OPD captain, and he admitted this.

He said he met Guap on Facebook and friended her because she was already friends with other retired Oakland cops. The former captain said Guap told him she was twenty when they had sex.

(The Express is not publishing his identity for medical reasons. "Please don't publish my name. I will die. I have a heart condition," he said via phone. He currently draws a $125,000 pension from the city.)

Captain Ricardo Orozco supervised seventy patrol officers as commander of OPD Area 3 operations until he retired in April 2015. Area 3 encompasses International Boulevard from Lake Merritt to Fruitvale Avenue. A 2014 OPD "anti-human trafficking report" identified this part of Oakland as having the "highest concentration of younger prostitutes 'working the streets' along with online dates at motels along Embarcadero." Orozco was in charge of Area 3 for several years and was part of an OPD initiative to shame people by sending "Dear John" letters to those suspected of soliciting sex workers on the street.

In 2013, Orozco had a demotion overturned through arbitration: He had been relegated from captain to sergeant for his failure to properly supervise during the March 21, 2009, incident where parolee Lovelle Mixon killed four Oakland police officers.

The Oakland City Council honored Orozco on April 21 of last year for his 28 years on the force. At the ceremony, former chief Whent said that OPD's top priority was changing the relationship between the police and the community. "You're one of the people that was really helpful in driving that change we're trying to accomplish," Whent told Orozco. "You embody what that change means."

That same night, the city council voted to designate the week of April 20 through 26 as "Sexually Exploited Minors Awareness Week."

Orozco was at one point friends with Guap on Facebook and also followed her on Instagram, according to social-media accounts reviewed by the Express. On December 24 last year, Orozco sent Guap an Instagram private message:

"I would love ur taco!"

The Express contacted Orozco on May 23 via Facebook, but he did not respond — and subsequently deleted both his Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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