Oakland officials agreed Wednesday to pay nearly $1 million to settle a teenager’s claims that city police officers sexually abused her while she worked as an underage prostitute. Oakland officials agreed Wednesday to pay nearly $1 million to settle a teenager’s claims that city police officers sexually abused her while she worked as an underage prostitute. The agreement came after the widespread sex-abuse scandal led to the resignation of a police chief last summer and caused turmoil in the department already under federal court supervision for other problems.
Criminal charges have been filed against seven former and current officers in the scandal in which the teen said she sometimes had sex with officers in exchange for protection from arrest and for tips about prostitution investigations. Now 19, she has said she had sex with as many as two dozen officers beginning when she was 16 and ending last year.
Her lawyer John Burris said she has similar legal claims pending against police departments in San Francisco, Richmond and Livermore, and the sheriff’s offices of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The Oakland City Council voted 7-1 Wednesday to pay $989,000 to settle the claims against the city. Councilwoman Desley Brooks voted against the settlement, saying the city should have paid more. “Think about this young girl, who was victimized under the color of authority,” Brooks said. “There is something wrong with this.”
Mayor Libby Schaaf said she approved of the deal. “It was in the best interest of the city to settle this matter quickly and fairly,” Schaaf said. “We remain focused on rebuilding the public trust that was so damaged by this incident.” Officials with the department didn’t respond to phone and email inquiries.
The woman said at a news conference that she was satisfied with the settlement. Burris said critics don’t know all the facts of the case, and the settlement was in his client’s best interest. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual crime victims and is withholding the name of the woman even though it has been widely used in the media.
The scandal emerged last summer when a federal judge overseeing the troubled Oakland Police Department said he was dissatisfied with the internal affairs investigation of an officer who committed suicide in 2015. The teen said that officer was among those who abused her over a nearly three-year period. Most of the implicated officers worked in Oakland.
The woman appeared nervous Wednesday during an hour-long news conference, giving short answers and shoulder shrugs to most questions. She said she was relieved with the settlement and hoped to attend college and work with animals. “I didn’t think anyone cared about me,” she said. “I’m very grateful.” Burris says she no longer works as a prostitute.
Earlier this month, she threw up into a waste paper basket while testifying during a preliminary hearing for former Oakland police Officer Dan Bunton, who was ordered to stand trial on charges of solicitation and obstruction of justice. He pleaded not guilty after being accused of tipping off the teen to a prostitution sting.