High-Ranking Richmond Police Kept Their Jobs After Sexts With Teen

Police officers in Richmond who swapped sexually explicit text messages with a local teenager — and in some cases asked for pictures of her naked — got to keep their jobs, records show.

Disciplinary files released late Wednesday provide new insight into how the Richmond Police Department disciplined nine officers who were involved in the multi-agency sexual exploitation scandal that rocked Bay Area police departments four years ago.

In 2016, the then-18-year-old going by the name Celeste Guap told Oakland Police Department internal affairs investigators that she had sex with 30 officers who worked for Bay Area agencies in exchange for protection from arrest. The allegations touched seven law enforcement agencies, including Richmond.

Former police chief Allwyn Brown publicly promised residents at the time that officers would be disciplined decisively for any “sustained allegations” involving the young Richmond woman “especially ones that carry harm to the public service.”

Records now show six of the nine men were given written reprimands and allowed to stay on the job. The city moved to fire three officers. An additional two officers resigned before facing discipline.

On Wednesday, Richmond released the names of three officers that had not been publicly named before: Sgt. Detective Erik Oliver, Detective Dan Campos and Officer Joe Deorian. All three were reprimanded for sexting with Guap.

In 2016, Guap had named six other men who worked at the Richmond Police Department: Lt. Andre Hill, Sgt. Jerred Tong, Sgt. Terrance Jackson, Lt. Felix Tan, Mike Rood and Armando Moreno.

After a yearlong legal battle, the city of Richmond finally released disciplinary records for all of the officers to KQED and other news organizations as part of a settlement agreement stemming from a lawsuit over SB 1421, the “Right to Know” police transparency act that went into effect in 2019.

These newly released records out of Richmond show one of the highest ranking officers involved, — Lt. Felix Tan, a 20-year veteran of the department — received a written reprimand for sexting. Tan became the public information officer for the Richmond Police Department after the scandal broke and Lt. Andre Hill was removed from the position. In 2019, Tan was voted crime prevention officer of the year, but has not received any promotions, according to another public information officer.

Guap sent Tan a nude photo of herself.

“Of course I made some comments because I’m a guy,” Tan said. He also admitted to asking for more photos, according to the documents.

Investigators found that then-Sgt. Armando Moreno knew that Guap was a prostitute when he had sex with her off duty, and ran a name for her through a confidential police database.

Moreno allegedly met Guap while patrolling an area known for sex trafficking and offered her a prostitution resource card. But later, in spring 2016, their relationship became sexual. Moreno also allegedly shared a police report with Guap about a sexual assault against one of her friends.

A spokesperson confirmed that Moreno is still with the Richmond Police Department but now holds a lower rank.

Sgt. Mike Rood was the head of the Regulatory Unit overseeing medical marijuana dispensaries, and held previous positions as homicide detective and patrol officer.

Richmond officials reprimanded Rood for sexting.

Rood told investigators he was curious when Guap first reached out to him.

“I have never had anyone just message me and say I wanna f*k you in a hotel,” he said. “So yeah, I made a poor judgment, I should not have met with her, but I did because I wanted to make sure she understood that I was not interested.”

Rood remained on the job, but at the lower rank of officer. 

On Wednesday, Richmond also provided additional records on the three Richmond officers who worked with at-risk youth in the community and were terminated for their misconduct.

Lt. Andre Hill was the head of the Youth Services Division when he began sexting with Guap and went to her house for oral sex. Hill insisted he didn’t know she was soliciting him.

“I thought I was just a special guy,” he told investigators. “I just thought that she maybe liked cops, maybe was a cop groupie, and wanted to just interact with me sexually.” In 2018, Hill appealed the city’s decision to terminate him in Contra Costa County Superior Court, but the judge sided with the city.

Officer Terrance Jackson told department internal affairs investigators that he recognized her as a former student at De Anza High where he worked as the school’s resource officer.

The city initially moved to fire Jackson for having sexual contact with Guap while on duty, and in uniform. Jackson appealed and was allowed to stay on with a dock in pay. In an email, the Richmond Police Department confirmed that Jackson has retired from the force.

Jerred Tong was fired for engaging in oral sex with Guap on two occasions, “while knowing she was a prostitute” and then lying about it during an internal investigation. Tong also ran a search for Guap on a police database.

Records show Guap often initiated contact with the officers — friending them on Facebook. Officers and their attorneys have used this as evidence showing that Guap was the aggressor. Some officers said they accepted her request because they had many friends in common.

Allwyn Brown, who was criticized for his handling of the 2016 scandal, resigned last year after a no-confidence vote from rank-and-file officers.

Bisa French was appointed Richmond’s police chief in July. French did not reply to an email requesting comment on these disclosures.

Following the publication of this article on Wednesday, French issued a statement to Richmond city officials via email on Friday.

“The officers involved in this case behaved in a manner that is outside the scope of what is acceptable for a police officer,” French wrote. “I do not condone this behavior and I am taking a zero-tolerance approach for misconduct within the Richmond Police Department, particularly as it relates to issues of morale turpitude. Misconduct, whether on or off duty, is unacceptable, and we cannot behave in a way that erodes public trust and tarnishes our reputation.”

French said that although she cannot change the disciplinary decisions of her predecessor, “I am making sure that police department staff are clear about the swift consequences of improper behavior.”

Richmond is the first city to make a full disclosure of its internal records relating to the scandal that also implicated officers in the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Livermore Police Department, Oakland Police Department, the San Francisco Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Last June, the Oakland Police Department released a heavily redacted executive summary of findings related to just five officers but have still not released the audio files or additional underlying records as required under SB 1421. The department is currently facing a lawsuit over its lax responsiveness to requestors.

The other five agencies have either not responded to requests filed Jan 1, 2019 or have denied having any findings of sexual misconduct or lying by officers associated with the Guap case.

From www.kqed.com