DUBLIN (BCN) A former Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy was ordered to stand trial today on three charges in connection with a sexual exploitation scandal linked to several Bay Area law enforcement agencies.
Ricardo Perez, 29, will stand trial on a felony charge of oral copulation with a minor and misdemeanor charges of engaging in lewd conduct in public.
Perez had nothing to say as he arrived to court for his preliminary hearing. Cameras were not allowed in court.
The victim, an alleged victim of sex trafficking, was a teen who worked as a prostitute. Jasmine Abuslin, now 19, was only 17 at the time of an encounter with Perez in July 2015. She testified at the preliminary hearing today in Dublin.
She admitted under cross-examination from Perez's attorney that she lied about her age and told the former deputy that she was married with multiple children.
But Alameda County prosecutor Sabrina Farrell said during arguments at the end of the hearing that it was unreasonable for Perez to believe that, based on his interactions with her.
"His only focus was on what she could do for him sexually," Farrell said.
In graphic detail, Abuslin testified how she and Perez first met on Facebook in 2015. She said at first the two exchanged nude pictures, but that they had sex at least six times while in the back seat of his car, parked in a scenic lookout in the Oakland Hills.
She testified that even after she told him later that she was underage, his reaction was "whatever" and that he didn't seem to be shocked at all. She said she continued to send racy texts in both English and Spanish.
"The officer engaged in this type of conduct is clearly a person who took advantage of a very young woman. And the sexual activities that he enjoys for himself was very exploitative," said Abuslin's attorney John Burris.
Perez' attorney Joe Motta said in court that his client didn't know that Abuslin was underage. The defense attorney also said the pictures she had sent were provocative and adult like, not child like.
At one point the defense attorney asked Abuslin if the former deputy "did anything wrong to you." To which she replied, "Yes. What does the law call it? Statutory rape."
The defense attorney tried to argue today that no one was around when the two had sex in the back seat at night. He says that's the same argument that the former Contra Costa D.A. used in declining to file charges against most officers here, but the judge in Alameda County disagreed.
Perez, who remains free from jail on his own recognizance, will return to court on Aug. 10. He's the second former officer in the scandal who could end up before a jury.
He is one of several law enforcement officers, including many from the Oakland Police Department, who have been charged in connection with the sex misconduct scandal.