Richmond PD Chief put on paid leave; allegations she broke law to save daughter from sex trafficking

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- A scandal with the Richmond Police Chief caught in the middle has prompted investigations by three different Bay Area police agencies, and forced the city's first female African American Police Chief, Bisa French, to be put on paid leave. It involves allegations that French and her husband, a sergeant in the Oakland police department, may have broken the law, in trying to rescue their teenage daughter from an alleged sex trafficker.

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"The one thing we like to do is know what's going on before we hear it on the evening news, said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, who told ABC7News he was blindsided by word that his police chief Bisa French was put on paid administrative leave due to family and potential legal issues around the alleged sex trafficking of her teenage daughter.

"As a parent, having to go through something like this is just unimaginable. She's a good person. She's a professional," said Butt.

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Chief French and her husband Oakland Police Sgt. Lee French, are both on leave, after allegations made by their 18-year-old daughter that the couple became physical and threatened both she and the man the teen calls her partner, 34-year-old Joe Goldman, who is now in an Alameda County jail charged with human trafficking.

"The allegations really result form Chief French's and her husband's attempt to get her daughter safe again," said attorney Michael Rains, who represents Bisa French, "A daughter, who was a wonderful student, a straight A student, took a part-time job and had the misfortune of meeting a guy many years older."

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A probable cause statement states that Goldman, who also goes by the name of Oho McNair, has prior convictions for sex trafficking, and that he had French's daughter working as a prostitute in motels and on the streets of Oakland in recent months.

The documents state that the teen told investigators, "Oho taught me how to move and make money."

According to court filings, Bisa and Lee French tried to get their daughter away from Goldman, an interaction the daughter described in a court document seeking a restraining order against her parents.

"My mother and father proceeded to yell at me and threaten me. I tried to run out...but my father grabbed me," she said.

She also alleged her parents threatened to kill both her and Goldman.

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A separate police report alleges Bisa and Lee French also went to the Vallejo home of Goldman's mother, where the woman claimed they threatened her.

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams released this statement about that incident:
"We are conducting an investigation into an incident involving members of the Richmond and Oakland Police Departments. As the Chief of Police, when an incident occurs in Vallejo which involves police officers employed by another department, it is my responsibility to contact the employing department to inform them of accusations involving one of their members."

Oakland police issued their own statement, given Lee French's alleged involvement in the Vallejo incident:
"After being contacted by the Vallejo Police Department, OPD initiated an internal investigation into the criminal allegations being investigated by Vallejo Police."

While Richmond, Vallejo and Oakland police investigate, Chief French will remain on paid leave. In the meantime, a hearing is set in Contra Costa County Superior Court for later this month on her daughter's effort to get a restraining order against her parents.

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