Revisiting the Celeste Guap Case Four Years Later
on December 5, 2020
She used to call them her protectors.
Now, they’re the reason behind her nightmares and body shakes.
It’s been more than four years since since Jasmine Abuslin, also known as Celeste Guap, was at the center of an explosive police sex misconduct scandal that eventually involved several Bay Area law enforcement agencies.
The scandal resulted in firings, reprimands, resignations, two dismissed court cases, one settlement case and a lifetime of trauma.
“It makes me feel crazy, being triggered by just a cop car,” said Abuslin, who is now 23. “ But I wonder who it is, if they see me and whether they recognize me.
About two months ago, KQED reported that disciplinary records revealed that some police officers who had swapped sexually explicit messages with her four years ago were reprimanded but not removed from their jobs.
Six of the nine men, according to that same report, were given written reprimands and allowed to stay on the job.
“It’s like a slap in the face,” Abuslin said. “It feels like they got away from it. If you think about it, out of everyone, I was the one who got the most pain from this situation.”
Richmond Chief of Police Bisa French declined to comment and referred Richmond Confidential to her Oct. 2 statement to city officials.
“The officers involved in this case behaved in a manner that is outside the scope of what is acceptable for a police officer,” French wrote in the email. “I do not condone this behavior and I am taking a zero-tolerance approach for misconduct within the Richmond Police Department, particularly as it relates to issues of moral turpitude.”
French added that she “cannot change the decisions that were made,” but she is trying to make sure that staff are “clear about the swift consequences of improper behavior.”
When told about the chief’s statement, Abuslin said French “still has time to make things right” and “throw the bad apples out.”
She demanded that the officers who “sexted her,” and in some cases met up with her for sexual purposes, be fired.
“I was wronged,” Abuslin said. “They took advantage of the situation. They took advantage of where I was mentally. Even if I was 18 at the time with certain officers it doesn’t take away there were certain power differences.”
In 2016, Allwyn Brown, who was then the police chief, promised residents that officers involved would be disciplined “decisively” and in proportion to their sustained misconduct violations.
Randy Joseph, chair of the Community Review Police Commission, said he disagrees with the officers keeping their jobs and would like to revisit the case.
“I have been in contact with Abuslin and that is something I want to reopen,“ Joseph said.” I don’t feel a written reprimand suffices in that situation.”
Eddie Aubrey, Richmond’s Office of Accountability (OPA) Manager, oversaw the 2016 investigation. His office, an independent entity within the police department that investigates officer misconduct, sustained allegations against nine officers.
Aubrey’s office did not provide any disciplinary recommendations.
“We have zero to do with any kind of discipline, except for providing the disciplinary history when asked,” Aubrey said.
Aubrey said the disciplinary decisions in misconduct cases are ultimately up to the chief of police or department captains, who receive a recommendation from the office’s findings of the investigation.
Joseph said he joined the commission to change this.
“Part of the reason I joined was because of the Abuslin situation and seeing that the CPRC could not investigate it or be a part in the discipline,” Joseph said. “I want to be a part of making sure that changes.”
Recently, the commission has seen changes.
On Nov. 24, the Richmond City Council approved an ordinance to give the CPRC the power to investigative police-related sexual assault and harassment, discrimination allegations and all incidents involving the discharge of a firearm at a person.
The commission will also now have the ability to select a member to serve on interview panels for hiring new officers. At Wednesday’s monthly commission meeting, the CPRC voted to recommend that members be allowed to sit on police promotional panels.
As for Abuslin, she must continue to wait.
The new amendment will not allow the commission to investigate incidents that “occurred prior to the effective date of this amended ordinance” and, according to Aubrey, the OPA does not reopen cases unless new evidence or information surfaces.
The office has not reopened a case since Aubrey became the manager in 2016.
“I feel like it’s not too late to make things as right as they can be made,” Abuslin said. “I don’t think they should get a pass just cause they wear a shiny badge.”
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