The Oakland Police Department is embroiled in scandal after several officers were accused of statutory rape. Officers are accused of having sex with the same teenage girl, Celeste Guap, who made initial contact with an officer on Facebook when she was 16.
Guap, now 18 or 19, allegedly had sex with more than a dozen police officers starting when she was underage. Despite the allegations, Guap claimed she only slept with one officer while she was underage. In a Facebook post from May 10, he wrote on her Facebook page, “The only officer I messed with underage is sadly gone now so idk why this s**t is still being brought up.”
The post is likely a reference to Oakland police officer Brendan O’Brien, 30, who committed suicide September of last year. His suicide came almost a year after his wife’s “suspicious” death, which ultimately was also ruled a suicide. A note left behind by O’Brien alerted authorities to his relationship with Guap and prompted an internal affairs investigation into sexual misconduct.
The Daily Mail reports that sources suggested investigators failed to properly look into sexual misconduct that was ongoing since 2014.
After reexamining the case a federal judge ordered another investigation in which officers admitted to lying about their relationships with Guap during the first one. An officer who has not been named is facing a statutory rape charge in the criminal investigation underway after admitting to having sex with the young woman while knowing she was underage. Three officers are under investigation in the current case.
Media coverage of the investigation from The Daily Mail and local news sources suggest Guap’s relationship was consensual, despite her being underage. Under California Penal Code 261.5 PC, a “statutory rape” takes place when any person engages in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of eighteen. Statutory rape is a crime regardless of whether the sex was consensual, or even initiated by the minor.
Media has framed Guap as a hyper femme aggressor. Montages of her most suggestive photos are plastered throughout articles and videos. Screen shots of several of Guap’s Facebook posts paint a picture of a woman fully in control of her sexual experience. The character of the officers who broke the law is not questioned. Officers who knowingly had sexual intercourse with a minor are criminals who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, period. That the media would frame the incident as an “underage sex scandal” instead of the multiple rape of a young woman shows the power of patriarchy in journalism.
Sexual misconduct in law enforcement has been in the spotlight over the last year as a result of high profile cases. Earlier this year Daniel Holtzclaw, the disgraced former Oklahoma City police officer, was convicted of rapes while on duty and sentenced to 263 years in prison.
Investigators said that Holzclaw leveraged his power and position to prey on women in low-income neighborhoods.