Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced today that she’d fired the police department’s interim chief after just four days on the job. The department is currently being rocked by a sex scandal in which more than a dozen officers are suspected of regularly having sex with a teenage girl.
Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent resigned last week, at the end of a months-long investigation into allegations made by an 18-year-old woman, who said she is a sex worker and had sex with more than 25 police officers. The woman, who has used the name “Celeste Guap” in interviews, is the daughter of a police dispatcher, according to ABC 7. She says she had sex with 14 Oakland police officers and 11 from other departments in the area, beginning when she was 16 years old.
Guap expressed mixed feelings about the officers during an interview with KPIX, saying both, “I have no negative feelings towards any of them,” but also, “Thinking back on it, I do see myself as a victim, because I do feel I was taken advantage of.”
Some reports say Guap had sex with three officers while she was underage; Courthouse News reports that Guap wrote in a May Facebook post that she only had sex with one officer while she was underage, writing, “the only officer I messed with underage is sadly gone now.” That appears to be a reference to Brendan O’Brien, an OPD officer who died by suicide in May, leaving a note saying he and other officers had sex with a teenager. O’Brien’s wife also died by suicide in the same house 15 months before.
After Whent resigned, Interim Police Chief Ben Fairow was appointed in his place; today, though, Mayor Schaaf abruptly announced his removal, saying she’d learned information that “caused me to lose confidence” in his leadership. From her statement:
With the abrupt resignation of Sean Whent last week, we sought to have seamless leadership of the Oakland Police Department and selected an individual who understood the dynamics in Oakland and who, based on his previous employment with OPD, could hit the ground running.
However, I have just received information that has caused me to lose confidence in Ben Fairow’s ability to lead the Oakland Police Department at this particular moment in time. OPD staff, members of our community and City leadership deserve to have complete trust and confidence in our Chief, especially during this critical transition.
State law prohibits me from further elaborating on the specific factors that led to this decision.
I made the decision to appoint Ben Fairow, I also own the decision to remove him. I firmly believe that when you make a mistake, you need to own it, and act quickly to correct it.
I appreciate Ben’s willingness to come to the aid of our city, and regret that his appointment was not the right decision.
So far, two police officers have been fired as a result of the scandal. They’re not being criminally charged. The Oakland Police Department continues to investigate itself for misconduct; more promisingly, the Alameda District Attorney’s Office and an independent federal monitor are also looking into Guap’s allegations.
Celeste Guap being interviewed by KPIX 5. Screenshot via YouTube/KPIX