Sex scandal at Oakland, surrounding area police departments forces DA investigator on leave

OAKLAND, Calif. — A sex scandal involving a teenage prostitute that has enveloped the Oakland Police Department and spread to four other area police agencies now has reached the district attorney’s office, where an investigator was placed on leave.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley made the move Wednesday, the same day Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf removed the interim police chief she appointed last week to get a handle on the “disgusting allegations” that officers had sex with the 18-year-old woman.

O’Malley did not identify the investigator or specify why the person was placed on administrative leave.

The teenager has alleged in media interviews that two dozen current and former officers in five San Francisco Bay Area cities had sex with her while she was working as a prostitute. Most of the officers worked for the Oakland Police Department.

Encounters with three of the officers took place when she was a minor, the woman has said.

Schaaf said new information she received Monday sapped her confidence in interim Chief Ben Fairow’s ability to lead the beleaguered department.

Fairow was an assistant chief for the regional transit system and previously spent 21 years as an officer in Oakland. He became interim chief after Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent abruptly resigned last week.

The mayor removed Fairow from the post just six days after she appointed him.

Schaaf said she should have taken more time to vet Fairow and called his appointment a mistake. She said state personnel laws prohibit her from elaborating.

“I own the mistake I made. The important thing is, I’m trying to fix it and fix it quickly,” she said.

Fairow did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Chief Kenton Rainey said he welcomed Fairow back to his department and that Fairow informed him he had an affair with a consenting adult while married more than a decade ago.

That doesn’t preclude him from “serving as a sworn law enforcement officer or as one of my deputy chiefs,” Rainey said.

Two officers with the troubled Oakland department have resigned amid the sex scandal, and three others remain on paid leave.

The scandal involving at least 14 Oakland police officers is another blow to a department already under federal oversight over past failures to adequately hold officers accountable for misdeeds that included planting evidence and robbing residents in predominantly black west Oakland.

The police department in Richmond has said several ranking officers are being investigated for possible contact with the woman or policy violations.

Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan has expressed concern about the police department’s ability to investigate its own.

“We have a systemic problem here,” she said.

Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa will serve as acting chief while Schaaf seeks an outside candidate to serve on an interim basis and conducts a nationwide search for a permanent chief.

New leadership will be critical to making clear the department does not tolerate “unethical behavior, sexual misbehavior or lying,” Schaaf said.

The Associated Press does not generally name people who say they are victims of sex crimes.

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