Oakland officers plead not guilty in sex cases

Two Oakland police officers charged with felonies in separate sexual misconduct cases pleaded not guilty today in back-to-back appearances in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward.

Officer Ryan Walterhouse, 26, who joined the Oakland Police Department in 2014 and worked as a patrol officer, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one misdemeanor count of engaging in an act of prostitution.

Walterhouse is accused of tipping off a prostitute about police crackdowns against prostitution in East Oakland on Oct. 13 and 14.

Walterhouse, who was arrested at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night when he reported for work but is now free on $20,000 bail, is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 7 for a pretrial hearing.

Officer Giovanni LoVerde, 33, pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of oral copulation with a minor stemming from a sexual exploitation scandal involving the teenage daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher.

The scheduled bail for that offense is $50,000 but Superior Court Judge Armando agreed to set LoVerde’s bail at only $20,000 after the officer’s attorney, Michael Cardoza, argued that LoVerde has no prior criminal record and isn’t a flight risk.

LoVerde is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 5 for a pretrial hearing.

Oakland Deputy Police Chief John Lois said Walterhouse’s arrest is unrelated to the sexual misconduct scandal involving the dispatcher’s teenage daughter, who allegedly had encounters with numerous officers from Oakland
and many other local law enforcement agencies.

Cardoza, a veteran lawyer and former prosecutor who represents both LoVerde and Walterhouse, alleged that both officers are “accused wrongly” and accused the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office of bringing charges against police officers for “political” reasons.

District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick declined to comment on Cardoza’s allegation, saying, “We aren’t commenting further at this time on the ongoing criminal prosecution.”

Cardoza said LoVerde never met the alleged victim and never had sex with her, although he said LoVerde communicated with her through social media.

Cardoza said Walterhouse didn’t do anything wrong and was simply “doing his job” in his interactions with the prostitute he allegedly was involved with but declined to elaborate, saying, “I will explain that at a trial.”

Referring to the charges against Walterhouse, Cardoza said, “This is a very political case in this county. Police officers are targets these days.”