The 19-year-old called “Celeste Guap” on Wednesday pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in Stuart, Florida, freeing her to return to California to testify as victim and witness in a Bay Area police sex scandal.
Charles Bonner, one of the attorneys who traveled from the Bay Area to deal with the criminal charges in Stuart, opened the news conference afterward by saying, “Jasmine is free. Celeste Guap is dead.”
Jasmine Abuslin is the young woman’s real name. She didn’t speak Wednesday. Previously, she told interviewers that she’s been sexually trafficked since she was 12. Bonner said the young woman plans to go back to school and pursue a veterinary career.
Abuslin had been held in Martin County Jail since Aug. 29 on a single aggravated battery charge, with bond set at an unusually hefty $300,000. Abuslin’s presence at a drug rehabilitation facility in Stuart was facilitated by the Bay Area city of Richmond, as was a request for funding from California’s Victim Compensation Program.
But, technically, Abuslin wasn’t a victim of Richmond police officers — the police chief there issued a report saying officers committed policy and ethics violations, but no crimes.
“It’s our understanding that the Richmond police department engaged in communication with a local agency here and brought her here under false pretenses,” said Oakland civil rights attorney Pamela Price, who came to Florida with Bonner. “We have many lovely facilities in the Bay Area throughout California. The kind of treatment this young woman needs is not a drug rehab program. She is a victim of child sex trafficking. She is traumatized. She needs that kind of help.”
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced last week that her office will file charges against seven current or former Bay Area officers in a sweeping sex scandal — involving seven different law enforcement agencies across five counties. But without Abuslin, the prosecutions couldn’t proceed.
“The police officers were engaged in a conspiracy to sexually traffic children,” Price said. “She was not the only one. As our DA has recognized, there were more officers who engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct than even the ones she has agreed to charge.”
Abuslin told The San Francisco Chronicle she had sex with 29 Bay Area police officers. Those first encounters began when she was 16, she said. Payment came in different forms: money; tips about prostitution roundups or stings; and information about whomever Abuslin desired.
“If you have any idea about child sex trafficking, you would understand payment can be money, it can be intimidation, it can be ‘I will let you live today. I will not kill you in this room,’” Price said. “I will represent to you that this child has been kidnapped. She has been placed in fear of her life. She has been held against her will in multiple locations in the Bay Area. Whether or not somebody gave her a dollar or a dime is irrelevant.”
The fallout coated the Oakland police department, which is looking for a new chief. Also, four officers have been fired with seven others suspended. Two tweets from American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California board member Mike Chase gave a chilling idea of what that could mean.
“We have to now provide for her security because her life is under threat,” Price said. “That is not acceptable in America. It’s not acceptable anywhere, but it’s certainly not acceptable in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re going to protect this young woman. We’re going to make sure she gets the help she needs.”