Contra Costa to charge ex-Oakland cop in sex scandal

MARTINEZ (BCN) -- A retired Oakland police captain will be charged in Contra Costa County with a misdemeanor for allegedly paying to have sex with a teenager at the center of a wide-ranging Bay Area police sexual exploitation case, District Attorney Mark Peterson said today. 

The 81-year-old man, who was not named during a news conference about the case, admitted to paying the now-19-year-old woman for sex at a hotel in Richmond in February of this year, Peterson said.

Peterson said he expects to file the charge sometime next week.   The single misdemeanor count of soliciting a prostitute is the only charge expected out of Peterson's office, which investigated claims that 13 officers and sheriff's deputies from five different departments had sex with the girl at different times from February to April of 2016, according to the district attorney's office.

Peterson said that his office reviewed 19 separate interviews the girl gave to six different law enforcement agencies and also conducted its own interview with her.

Based primarily on these interviews, Peterson said his office concluded that there is insufficient evidence to charge any of the other officers for either engaging in prostitution, having sex with an underage girl or engaging in lewd conduct in public, where many of the encounters allegedly took place.

The officers' behavior was "reprehensible, it's immoral, it's inappropriate, it shouldn't be done, it's shocking, but is it a crime?" Peterson said.

The girl was either 18 or the officers thought she was 18 at the time they had sex with her, none of them besides the retired Oakland captain paid to have sex with her and none of the encounters took place in a area where they were likely to be seen by members of the public, Peterson said.

The girl did claim that one of the men, former Oakland officer Terryl Smith, gave her Cheetos in exchange for sex and tried to force her to engage in a sex act, according to the district attorney's office.

Peterson's office, however, determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge Smith with those crimes.

Smith does face five misdemeanor counts in Alameda County for accessing law enforcement databases and turning over information to the now 19-year-old woman about her criminal record. Peterson did not address those allegations today.

Smith's first court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 18 in Fremont.

In addition to Smith, three other Oakland police officers, a Livermore police officer and a Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy have been charged with crimes in Alameda County. A fifth Oakland police officer, Warit Uttapa, is also expected to be charged with a misdemeanor but so far no charges have been filed.

A total of 12 Oakland officers and 11 Richmond officers were disciplined in the case. Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown previously said that the department's internal investigation determined none of his officers' actions were criminal.

Two of the officers investigated by Peterson's office are from the San Francisco Police Department and their chief today said they will now face an investigation by internal affairs.

"I take these allegations seriously," interim Chief Toney Chaplin said in a statement. "While we've completed a criminal investigation, we will continue to hold members accountable for any violations."