OAKLAND, Calif. — The scandal-scarred Oakland Police Department has charged one of its own officers with alerting a prostitute to police raids and paying her for sex.
Officer Ryan Walterhouse is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one misdemeanor of engaging in prostitution. Authorities said he confessed to helping the woman avoid arrest.
The arrest of Walterhouse on Wednesday came as police in Oakland and elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area reel from a teenage prostitute’s claims that she had sex with dozens of officers, often in exchange for confidential police information, and, in some cases, when she was underage.
Walterhouse, according to court documents, twice this month tipped a woman sex worker to avoid police activity in certain parts of Oakland. He wrongly discussed police work with her and propositioned her, according to the charges ― even after 11 cops in the city were disciplined last month in the scandal involving the teenager.
“It is incredibly disturbing that, in light of what’s happened, any officer could think it’s acceptable to engage in this type of behavior and further sully a department that has worked so hard to reduce crime and rebuild community trust,” Mayor LIbby Schaaf said at a press conference broadcast on KQED radio.
Police said in a statement that Walterhouse’s arrest didn’t spring from the investigation involving the teen.
Schaaf said she was encouraged that rank-and-file cops reported Walterhouse’s behavior.
“The fact that members of the Oakland Police Department came forward to report this alleged misconduct by one of their colleagues, and the matter was investigated swiftly, is evidence that we are making critical progress in building a culture of accountability,” the mayor said in a statement to HuffPost.
According to police records, Walterhouse befriended the woman, called Jane Doe in documents, about six to eight months ago. He knew her to be a prostitute when he sent her a text message last week about a police raid, prosecutors said.
“[Y]ou might want to call it an early night tonight,” Walterhouse texted, according to authorities. “They may or may not be doing something right now,” he wrote, adding later, “yeah, you might want to stick to the online thing right now.”
Walterhouse sent similar messages the following day, according to prosecutors, including: “you out. don’t be right now,” and “I’l let you know when to.”
Walterhouse later asked the woman how she would repay him for the information he provided, the district attorney’s office said. On Oct. 16, he met with the woman at a motel in nearby Castro Valley and “paid U.S. currency for sexual services,” the arrest report said.
The cop’s actions could have put other officers in harm’s way, the arrest report said.
If convicted, Walterhouse faces up to three years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.
“The Oakland Police Department takes all allegations of misconduct involving our employees seriously,” the police department said in a statement. “We hold all of our employees to a high level of ethical and professional accountability and will not tolerate criminal behavior. Ensuring internal investigations are swift, fair and objective is our priority.”