Attorney John Burris representing Celeste Guap in exploitation case


Bay Area civil rights attorney John Burris announced Friday he has taken over as lead counsel for the 19-year-old woman at the center of a police sex exploitation scandal, known by her alias as Celeste Guap.

The attorney known for representing high profile clients in the Bay Area — including the family of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man killed by a BART police officer in 2009 — will handle the recent legal claims filed on behalf of Guap, whose real name is not being published here because she is a sex trafficking victim.

“I am just now getting into the case and do not have any other public statements to make at this time,” Burris said in a statement.

Legal claims have been filed against multiple jurisdictions in connection with the case, including Oakland, Livermore, San Francisco and Richmond. One of the claims seeks $30 million in damages from Richmond.

The scandal came to light after an Oakland police officer who had had a sexual relationship with Guap committed suicide and left behind a note implicating other officers. Law enforcement officials from multiple Bay Area agencies were found to have had improper contact with the teenager and self-proclaimed sex worker from Richmond.

Five current and former Oakland police officers, a former Livermore cop and an ex-Contra Costa sheriff’s deputy face criminal charges as a result of the case. Giovanni LoVerde, an Oakland officer, was due in Alameda County  Superior Court today to be arraigned on a charge of felony oral copulation with a minor.

Eleven Richmond police officers were investigated for improper contact with the teenager — but an internal probe found that their involvement did not amount to criminal charges.

Results from the investigation recommended that one of the Richmond officers be fired, another demoted, two more suspended — one for 80 hours, the other for 120 — and that five other officers receive letters of reprimand.

Bay City News contributed to this report