Women, Part I: One police officer cracked abuse case against Yusuf Bey
By Mary Fricker, The Chauncey Bailey Project
For 30 years, authorities did nothing to stop Your Black Muslim Bakery patriarch Yusuf Bey’s sexual assault of minors and physical abuse of women, though at least six complaints were made to police and social workers and the attacks were well known within the bakery community.
Then, one of the raped women told her story to Oakland police investigator Jim Saleda. In less than three months, Bey was arrested.
Investigative Report: Women of the Bakery
Women, Part I
Main story: One police officer cracked case
Second story: Fear kept abuse victims from seeking help
List: Reports to authorities
Women, Part II
Main story: Testimony reveals life of abuse
List: A chronology of abuse
List: Profiles of abuse
The story of Saleda’s methodical pursuit in 2002 of one of Oakland’s most prominent and influential leaders is detailed in a 22-page police investigative report obtained by the Chauncey Bailey Project.
Seemingly oblivious to the political power that others said had been protecting the owner of Your Black Muslim Bakery for years, Saleda undertook a step-by-step investigation of the woman’s claims.
He found earlier reports accusing Bey of child sexual abuse languishing in police files. He ordered DNA tests to prove Bey’s paternity. And along the way, he found about a dozen other people who said they knew about Bey’s assaults of children.
“Jim Saleda did a fabulous job of investigating the complaints of the victims,” said Alameda County District Attorney Teresa Ortega, who was assigned to prosecute the criminal case against Bey.
The charges of lewd conduct with minors that the Alameda County District Attorney’s office levied against Bey in 2002 have never been proven in a court of law. Bey died of colon cancer Sept. 30, 2003, before the case went to trial.
But a review of Saleda’s systematic investigation, the sworn testimony of four women who said Bey abused them, and hundreds of birth, police, court and county records, as well as interviews with at least a dozen people knowledgeable about the events, indicate that Bey had sex with children for years.
Authorities defend their years of inaction by pointing out that they were rarely told about Bey’s attacks on women and girls. When they were told, witnesses often wouldn’t testify. And in some cases complaints were raised with an agency that said it wasn’t its job to investigate.
But some of the women believe it was mainly Bey’s reputation as a powerful political figure in Oakland that protected him.
“The public image of political connections between the county of Alameda and Mr. Bey aided him in concealing a life of sexual assault against minors and vulnerable women,” Lathrop attorney David Washington wrote to the Alameda County board of supervisors in 2003 on behalf of three women who claimed Bey sexually assaulted them when they were children.
Bey’s concealed life ended in 2002, when Jane Doe 1 went to the Oakland police department for help. Doe 1’s name, and the names of other witnesses in the case, have not been released because of the sensitive nature of their allegations.
Doe 1 had been molested by Bey for 10 years as a child, she later testified, and she bore him three children when she was a minor, confirmed by DNA tests.
But on June 20, 2002, 14 years after she escaped the bakery, Doe 1, then 34, learned that Bey had molested their own teenage daughter. That very day, she went to the police department in downtown Oakland, she later testified, and was referred to Officer Saleda.
Saleda, an officer in the Youth and Family Services division, is a 12-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department, a department spokesman said. Before joining the department, he worked as an Oakland Housing Authority police officer for three years, according to his court testimony in an unrelated case last month.
Saleda served 13 years in the Navy and 14 years in the Army Reserve, and he was a calvary scout in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, he testified. While in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Saleda was awarded the Bronze Star for service, said the Army’s human resources command in St. Louis.
Until he retired from the military two years ago, Saleda was serving with the California National Guard’s 579th Engineering Battalion in Santa Rosa. He was part of a nine-man National Guard team that rescued dozens of people from torrential rains and floods in Sonoma County on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, 2005 and 2006, the American Forces Press Service reported.
Saleda said last month he could not comment for this story. Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker has placed a gag order on the department covering anything related to the Aug. 2 murder of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey. Police have charged bakery employee Devaughndre Broussard with murder in connection with Bailey’s death.
In a taped interview on June 20, 2002, Doe 1 told Saleda about years of assaults, and she told of other victims and other witnesses who could corroborate her account. She said she was coming forward because she had learned Bey was abusing other children.
Saleda calculated that she had been 13, 15 and 17 years old when she got pregnant with Bey’s children, he wrote in his report.
“The victim said she is certain that the suspect is her children’s father and it was impossible for them to be another person’s children,” Saleda wrote.
He launched an investigation.
Saleda’s first step was to check with the Alameda County District Attorney on the possibility of getting search warrants to collect DNA samples from Jane Doe 1’s children and Yusuf Bey.
“Mr. Hutchins said he believed it was possible,” Saleda wrote in his report. Mark Hutchins was the District Attorney’s search warrant expert, Saleda noted.
Then Saleda checked police files. There he discovered that Bey was a suspect in two prior reports alleging lewd acts with a child:
-In 1995, Doe 1’s stepmother had reported to the Alameda County child abuse hot line that Bey had been sexually abusing one of his sons. The boy was interviewed by the police and Child Protective Services, and he denied any abuse. Police closed the case without interviewing Bey, Saleda noted.
The stepmother “may be able to help corroborate the victim’s allegations in regards to the suspect,” Saleda wrote.
-In 1996, a 15-year-old girl had disclosed to her probation officer, and the probation officer reported to police, that she had been molested by the “Muslim minister that ran the Muslim bakery and dry cleaners located at 5836 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland,” Saleda wrote.
The probation officer said the teen told her that she had applied for a job at the bakery in 1994 when she was 13, and during the 16 months she worked there, Bey raped her and was physically abusive.
Bey told her he would be her “daddy,” and he promised to make her one of his wives, the girl had told her probation officer. He had sexual intercourse with at least three of her friends, all under age 14, and two of the girls became pregnant, she said.
The girl and her mother told the probation officer they were sure Bey would kill them to protect himself. Twelve days later, police got a letter from an attorney saying the child and her mother did not want to talk to police, and in a subsequent investigation report, police said they had cleared the case. “Complainant refuses to prosecute,” says the 1996 report obtained by the Chauncey Bailey Project.
“It appears that this report has no follow-up,” Saleda wrote in his own investigation report in 2002.
Saleda also found in the police files a 1994 incident where Doe 1’s stepmother reported that Bey had hit her in the face in a dispute over a child they had in common. She told police she was making the report just to document the incident, so police kept the record and took no action.
A month after their first meeting, Saleda interviewed Doe 1 again.
“This time she seemed a little bit more at ease and she gave a much more detailed account,” Saleda wrote.
She spoke about the sexual abuse, and she told about filing an assault report with Oakland police in 1986 after Bey beat her. In her report, she used Bey’s birth name, Joseph Stephens.
“She again said he had fathered 42 children,” Saleda noted in his report, “a number of them born to victims of molestation.”
At Doe 1’s suggestion, Saleda interviewed her sister, who lived out of state. The sister corroborated Doe 1’s story and said she had two children by Bey during 10 years of abuse. She said Bey molested his blood children as well as others. She agreed to cooperate with the investigation. She became the case’s second Jane Doe.
Building the case
On Aug. 19, 2002, Judge Allan Hymer signed four search warrants letting Saleda take saliva samples for DNA tests from Jane Doe 1, her three children and Yusuf Bey.
The same day, Doe 1 came to police headquarters in downtown Oakland and an officer took a saliva sample with a swab. The next morning, before 6, Saleda and three other officers went to the woman’s two sons’ residences and took saliva samples from them.
At 10 a.m., Saleda left a message for Bey at his bakery. In less than 10 minutes, one of Bey’s sons, attorney Muhammad Bey, called him back. Saleda asked him to have his father come downtown to police headquarters to give a saliva sample.
Mohammad Bey asked Saleda to fax him a copy of the warrant. After several telephone calls back and forth, they agreed Bey would stop by around 4:30 p.m., after a 2 p.m. cancer treatment.
Officers conducting surveillance on the bakery that day — at Saleda’s request — said they were seeing an unusual amount of activity, Saleda wrote.
“It appeared as if the bakery people were performing counter surveillance and scrutinizing patrons and/or passersby,” Saleda wrote.
At 4:40 p.m., five minutes after Saleda left a telephone message asking where he was, Muhammad Bey called to say that his father had just gotten home from the doctor and was in bed, too tired to come to the police department. But Saleda knew that Yusuf had arrived home at 3:05 p.m.
Saleda told Muhammad Bey that he was trying to protect his father’s privacy by letting him give his saliva sample at the police department.
“I explained to Muhammad Bey that if they kept missing appointments that I could not guarantee when and how the search warrant would be served,” Saleda noted in his report. Bey agreed to come in the next morning at 9:30.
Meanwhile, Saleda was feeling uneasy about Doe 1’s safety, his report shows, even though she had told him no one knew where she lived except her children.
After his conversation with Muhammad Bey, Saleda called for extra patrols in her neighborhood and got authorization to offer Doe 1 a safe place to stay. But he couldn’t reach her. The telephone was off the hook. Blinds were closed, and no one came to the door. An officer picked the lock, and no one was home.
The next morning, Aug. 21, 2002, Yusuf Bey and Muhammad Bey showed up on time for the saliva sampling, which was videotaped. Soon after, Doe 1 called in. She was fine, but she said she’d heard men at the bakery were threatening to harm her.
That afternoon, Saleda met with Doe 1’s daughter and collected a saliva sample. The daughter said she’d always known who her dad was, and she didn’t want to get involved in what was going on between her mom and dad.
She “also admitted that it was uncomfortable to be alone with the suspect and children in the family knew never to go around him alone, to always go in groups,” Saleda wrote.
At 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2002, Saleda got the results of the DNA tests, his report notes. The probability of Yusuf Bey being the father of Doe 1’s three children was 99.99 percent, 99.92 percent and 99.06 percent.
At 7:58 a.m., Saleda tried to call Doe 1. She didn’t answer, and he left a message.
Three hours later, at 11:15 a.m., he took his case to Deputy District Attorney James Lee for review.
“Mr. Lee asked that I leave the case with him so he could read through it,” Saleda wrote.
A week later Saleda took a call from Alameda attorney Andrew Dosa, representing Yusuf Bey. A police officer had told Bey that a warrant had been issued for his arrest, Dosa said.
Not so, Saleda told him.
On Sept. 18, the district attorney charged Bey with one felony count of lewd conduct with a minor. The charge referred to Doe 1’s conception of her oldest child, when she was 13. Bail was set at $50,000.
The next day, Sept. 19, 2002, at 8 a.m. Saleda notified Bey he had a signed warrant for his arrest. At 11:40 a.m., a silent Yusuf Bey surrendered at Oakland police headquarters.
“I admonished him and gave him an opportunity to give his account of the incident. The suspect declined. The suspect was booked into OPD (Oakland Police Department) Jail,” Saleda wrote. Bey posted bail and was released.
As the news of Bey’s arrest spread, Saleda’s telephone started to ring.
More victims, more allegations
Over two weeks, about nine callers told Saleda of people — often multiple people — whom they claimed Bey had abused, Saleda’s report shows. Some had become pregnant, they said. Police have not released the names of the callers.
“A few of the suspect’s victims are going through counseling at (a county hospital) for what the suspect did to them,” said one caller, who claimed the police investigation “has only scratched the surface,” Saleda noted.
“The suspect had about nine wives, and he started having sex with most of them when they were minors. … The wives had to band together to prevent the suspect from molesting children. … It was well known that females did not go to the suspect’s room alone,” another caller said, according to Saleda’s report.
A man said he knew a girl who became pregnant at 16 because of Bey’s molestation. She had moved to another state, and he was trying to get her to come forward, he told Saleda.
One caller said she hadn’t seen any molestation herself, but she did hear lots of rumors and had confronted Yusuf Bey about it one day. He denied it. She said she’d kill Bey if the rumors proved to be true, because her religion demands it.
Another caller said it was well-known in the bakery community “that the suspect molests a number of children including his own.” The caller said the suspect attempted to molest her daughter about a year earlier.
Three of the callers declined to give their names, saying they feared for their lives.
In one detailed conversation, a woman said she attended Yusuf Bey’s school for children in 1984, when she was 12, because her father worked at the bakery. Three times Yusuf Bey’s women sent her upstairs to see Bey, and he raped her, she told Saleda.
During the first attack, someone knocked on the door, and he put her in a closet, where she discovered she was bleeding, she told Saleda. Another time he took his pants part way down and tried to put his penis into her mouth while she resisted, she said.
He “started to tell her how beautiful she was and how they had to keep what was happening between them,” Saleda wrote. Bey told her she’d be his wife one day, the caller told Saleda.
After one of these episodes, one of Bey’s women saw the child crying and asked if it hurt. The child said yes, and the woman told her the pain would pass, Saleda wrote.
The girl’s ordeal ended when Nora Bey, one of Yusuf Bey’s women, told the girl’s mother that Bey was after her daughter and not to bring her around anymore, the girl told Saleda.
During this time, Saleda was also following up on the old cases he had found in the police files.
On Sept. 25, 2002, he interviewed Doe 1’s stepmother, who named five people she said were other possible victims.
After a number of attempts, he also located the girl who had reported in 1996 that she had been molested by a “Muslim minister” when she was 13 to 15 years old. She agreed to cooperate with his investigation, and she became the third Jane Doe. He interviewed her Oct. 24, 2002.
On Nov. 14, 2002, the Alameda County District Attorney expanded the charges against Bey to 27 felony sex crime accounts, reflecting allegations of 20 years of sexual abuse of women and girls between 1976 and 1995. The charges were based on the alleged abuse of four Jane Does.
Jane Does 1, 2 and 3 declined to be interviewed for this story. Jane Doe 4, who alleged that Bey sexually assaulted her as a minor as recently as 1995, has not spoken publicly about her experiences and could not be located. Friends said she moved abroad because she feared for her life.
Yusuf Bey’s bail was set at $1 million. If convicted, Bey could have been sentenced to life in prison.
In 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court shortened the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases in California, the charges involving Does 1, 2 and 3 were dropped from the case, and the charges involving Doe 4 were expanded.
Three months later, on Sept. 30, 2003, the bakery patriarch died of colon cancer. At the time of his death, Bey was facing 27 felony counts of lewd conduct with a minor, Jane Doe 4.
Mary Fricker is an independent journalist and retired Santa Rosa Press Democrat staff writer. Independent journalist Bob Butler, investigative reporter A.C. Thompson, and MediaNews staff writers Cecily Burt, Chris Metinko, Thomas Peele and Josh Richman contributed to this report.