On Saturday, the city of Oakland, California will launch a website where authorities can collect reports of people who patronize sex workers. The reportjohn.org snitch site created by city officials is an odd development in a town plagued by sex abuse scandals within its own law enforcement ranks. It will be interesting also to see what sort of security or privacy measures the site offers to those who use it to submit photos, names, license plates, or other sensitive information to authorities. At the time of this blog post, reportjohn.org is not yet online.
"The first question in the online form gets straight to the point: 'Do you have any photos of the activity?'," says NYT SF bureau chief Thomas Fuller, who previewed the system:
Residents will be encouraged to note down the license plate numbers of suspected johns' vehicles and describe the specific activity they witnessed. The sightings are uploaded to the police, who will send a letter to the address where the vehicle is registered.
Karely Ordaz Salto, the chairwoman of the city's Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Task Force, says Oakland is the first city to target johns in this way.
"The hope is that they will think twice and this will deter them," said Lt. Jill Encinias of the Oakland Police Department. "We really need to attack this problem from all sides. We need to start focusing on the demand."
The Oakland Police Department is at the center of a scandal involving seven Bay Area departments, in which the teen daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher said she had sex–including while she was underage–with dozens of police officers in quid pro quo arrangements.
Oakland cops saw plenty, but said nothing. In a corrupt culture of secrecy, the abuse of sex workers, including underage teens, goes unpunished.
From the East Bay Express:
Revelations this past May that multiple Oakland police officers sexually exploited a minor rocked the city and triggered the ouster of three police chiefs in nine days. News reports also uncovered a sprawling sexual-misconduct case implicating dozens of Bay Area police officers, who allegedly exploited a teenager who calls herself Celeste Guap. Now, Oakland's leaders say they intend to hold everyone accountable for crimes committed and policy violations.
But did Oakland officials at City Hall and the police department inform Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley about these potential crimes by law enforcement when they first discovered them, or only after the scandal hit the news?
If the latter, one expert says they might have violated the city's negotiated settlement agreement, overseen by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, which stems from a previous police scandal known as the "Riders" case.
Pamela Price, a local civil rights attorney representing Abuslin, said the teen who once used the pseudonym 'Celeste Guap' will serve as key witness in the prosecution of at least seven current and former East Bay law enforcement officers.
Abuslin, who has previously used the pseudonym Celeste Guap, asserted during a television news interview earlier this year that she had had sex with at least a dozen Oakland police officers, and that some of the encounters occurred while she was underage. She also accused officers of leaking information to her about planned prostitution raids in exchange for sex.
The scandal soon widened to include accusations against members of four other East Bay law enforcement agencies.