A former teen prostitute who claims she was sexually abused by police officers has received a nearly $1 million payout by the city of Oakland where seven officers are under investigation and the police chief resigned in the wake of the scandal. In addition to the claim filed against the city of Oakland, the teen is pursuing similar cases against five other Northern California police departments.
The police department already was under federal court supervision for other issues when the sex scandal broke last summer. An internal investigation was sparked by a suicide note left by a police officer with the department. Although investigators said found no evidence the officer ever met the tee, after his death, the teen prostitute began posting on Facebook about her “undercover” role with numerous officers in the police department, including the dead officer.
A criminal investigation ran concurrently with the internal investigation and last autumn, seven current and former Oakland police officers were charged with sexual misconduct in the case. Even though the young woman, now 19, said she had sex with about 30 law enforcement officers from police departments in Oakland and elsewhere in Northern California beginning when she was 16, only seven Oakland officers are so far facing a combination of misdemeanor and felony charges. They include: engaging in prostitution, solicitation, oral copulation with a minor, engaging in lewd acts and obstruction of justice.
According to the teen, some officers -- including a retired police captain in his 80s -- paid cash for sex, while others tipped her off about planned prostitution stings or traded sex for protection from arrest. At least one officer compensated her with Cheetos.
Some states, including Washington, are changing their views on enforcing solicitation laws. Instead of targeting the prostitutes, they are focusing on those who patronize prostitutes. Last spring Washington's governor signed into law a bill that would aid victims of sex trafficking, many of whom find themselves forced into the sex trade. However, proponents of legalizing prostitution contend it is a victimless crime, using as examples the 11 Nevada counties where the practice is legal. Defenders of prostitution believe legalizing the profession would reduce crime, increase tax revenue, raise people out of poverty and improve public health by destigmatizing the profession so sex workers were not afraid to seek medical attention.
For now, however, the act of prostitution and soliciting a prostitute is illegal in Washington. Regardless of the circumstances, everyone deserves the best defense. If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.