Court of Appeal upholds dismissal of City of Richmond officer for role in sexual exploitation case

An appeals court upheld the City of Richmond’s decision to fire a former police officer who was part of a 2016 sexual exploitation scandal involving an 18-year-old sex worker.

In a June 30 decision, a three-judge panel concluded that the dismissal of the officer, Lt. Andre Hill, was “harsh” but “within a reasonable range of discipline.”

Hill was one of many officers from several Bay Area law enforcement agencies who exchanged sexually explicit messages or had sex with the woman, then known as Celeste Guap. Former Richmond Police Chief and an administrative law judge recommended Hill’s demotion or suspension, but former Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay fired him in 2017 citing “predatory behavior” .

Hill appealed the decision to a lower court, which dismissed his petition, and then to the First District Court of Appeal.

Some of the other officers involved in the scandal have been fired or suspended.

The Chronicle could not reach Hill or his attorney for comment on Saturday night.

“Hill maintains he was fired on an illegal basis, namely a ‘singular and legal private sexual encounter with a consenting adult,'” Judge Kathleen Banke wrote in the ruling. “Hill is right, as both the (administrative law judge) and the trial court acknowledged, that police officers have privacy and association rights with respect to intimate and sexual relationships in outside working hours. Nonetheless, law enforcement officials can be penalized for off-duty conduct that undermines public confidence in the agency or department.

An administrative investigation into Hill’s behavior found that he exchanged 324 messages with the woman between 2015 and 2016, mostly outside of duty hours, and had oral sex with her when he was not on duty. service in 2016. He didn’t know she was a sex worker. and did not have sex in exchange for confidential information or special treatment by law enforcement, the investigation revealed.

Catherine Ho is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Cat_Ho

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