OAKLAND (KRON) — Former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy Ricardo Perez pleaded not guilty Friday to a felony charge of oral copulation with a minor in connection with a sexual exploitation scandal that has led to investigations in at least seven Bay Area law enforcement agencies.
Perez, 28, also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of engaging in lewd conduct in public for allegedly having sexual intercourse about 10 times with the alleged victim in a secluded area near Fish Ranch Road in the Oakland hills.
He was released on his own recognizance.
Perez’s preliminary hearing will be on Nov. 4.
Oakland police officer Giovani LoVerde’s arraignment was held over to Oct. 7. His attorney, media commentator and former prosecutor Michael Cardoza, is out of town so LoVerde’s arraignment was postponed until next Friday.
The charges stem from a sexual exploitation scandal involving a teenage woman, Jasmine Abuslin. The victim, a teen who worked as a prostitute, is now seeking more than $100 million in damages.
Investigators said that the teen was only 17 at the time of her encounters with Perez.
Perez, who declined to talk to reporters before and after his arraignment in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward, is the second law enforcement officer to appear in court for allegedly being involved with the
teen, who has been connected to investigations of dozens of officers throughout the Bay Area.
The woman is now 19 and is the daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher. The teen’s name has been omitted from this report due to her status as the alleged victim of sex trafficking.
The first officer to appear in court was Oakland police Officer Brian Bunton, who pleaded not guilty last week to felony charges of obstruction of justice and engaging in prostitution. Bunton is free on $12,500 bail, which he posted last week.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is also expected to file charges against former Oakland police Officer Terryl Smith, who resigned in May and is expected to face four misdemeanor counts of conducting a search of official criminal justice data without an authorized purpose.
O’Malley is also expected to file charges against Oakland police Officer Warit Uttapa, who’s accused of the same offense.
In addition, Livermore police Officer Dan Black, 49, and retired Oakland police Sgt. Leroy Johnson, 50, were charged with misdemeanor offenses two weeks ago.
Prosecutor Sabrina Farrell asked Judge Joseph Carson, who retired in 2000, but was filling in for another judge Friday, to set Perez’s bail at $60,000, which she said is the standard amount for the charges Perez faces.
But Carson allowed Perez to remain free without having to post any bail.
Perez’s lawyer, Joseph Motta, said Perez was not a flight risk because “he’s already lost his job, he lives with his parents in eastern Contra Costa County and he poses no danger to the community.”
When Carson read Perez’s probable cause statement before making his decision to let Perez remain out of custody on his own recognizance, he said, “Fish Ranch Road? I haven’t been there since high school.”
After the hearing, the teenager’s attorney, Pamela Price, said Carson’s remark was “a telling comment” and indicated that “what happened on Fish Ranch Road was a joke and he minimized it.”
The teenage woman at the center of the scandal recently returned to the Bay Area from Florida, where she was treated at a drug rehabilitation center but she also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge for assaulting a guard.
Price filed a $66 million claim on behalf of the teen against the city of Oakland two weeks ago and this week filed a $30 million claim against the city of Richmond and five of its officers. She also filed multi-million-dollar claims against Alameda County and the cities of San Francisco and Livermore.
Price said she’s upset that Carson allowed Perez to remain free on his own recognizance and she believes his alleged conduct with the teen “reflects a climate and a culture in which he thought he could engage in that kind of conduct with impunity.”
Bay City News contributed to this report.