Exploited teen in law enforcement sex scandal drops suit against Contra Costa Sheriff's Office

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) A woman who was sexually exploited by law enforcement officers from multiple departments across the Bay Area has dropped her lawsuit against the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in light of a judge's ruling to dismiss the criminal case against a former deputy.

The woman's sexual encounters with police officers began when she was underage, leading to an expansive scandal that resulted in discipline for a dozen Oakland police officers and criminal charges for seven current and former officers from three departments.

Three officers faced felony charges, including Contra Costa County sheriff's Deputy Ricardo Perez. Perez, 29, was initially charged with oral copulation with a minor and two counts of engaging in lewd conduct. In
August, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office added another charge of oral copulation with a minor based on evidence that came to light during a preliminary hearing.

But a judge dismissed the criminal case against Perez earlier this month, finding that prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence that Perez knew the woman was underage when he had sex with her. With the collapse of the case against Perez, prosecutors also dropped felony charges against Oakland police Officer Giovanni LoVerde, who remains on the force.

The woman already won a nearly $1 million settlement against the city of Oakland. In August, she filed lawsuits against the Richmond Police Department and the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.

The woman's attorney, John Burris, said today that he decided to no longer pursue the lawsuit against Contra Costa County further because of the judge's ruling.

"He lost his job, so he's no longer a police officer, he got humiliated by all the sexual transgressions that came forth," Burris said.

"From my point of view, this is just one of a number of cases we have and we think that she would be better served if we pursued the case against Richmond and all the officers there."

The woman sued Richmond in August, alleging substantial misconduct by multiple officers, including that some officers had sex with her in exchange for protection and others had asked her to disrobe when they came by her house. The suit also accused her school resource officer, Terrance Jackson, of groping her at her home.

No Richmond police officers faced criminal charges, though several were disciplined.

Burris said that because the case against Richmond police involved multiple officers, there was a more clear systemic failure on the part of the department as opposed to the case in Contra Costa County, which involved only the single deputy.

Perez was placed on leave in June 2016 as details of the scandal emerged and resigned later that month. In court documents, prosecutors said that he had sex with the woman about 10 times in a dirt turnout near Fish
Ranch Road in the Oakland Hills, a popular location for sexual activity by teenagers.

After the lawsuit against Contra Costa County was filed in August, Sheriff David Livingston said that the department would vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit, stressing that Perez's conduct was off-duty and
that he had resigned in lieu of termination.

Asked for comment on the lawsuit's dismissal today, sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said he hadn't heard it had happened. 

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