2802 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
|Home||Special Reports||Archive||Links||The City||Commerce||About||Contacts||Editor||Send PR|
Alleged Molestation Victim Sues City For Failing to Protect PAL Youth
By Jorge Casuso
November 21, 2018 -- An alleged child molestation victim of deceased City employee Eric Uller filed a damages claim against the City Tuesday for failing too protect children at the after-school program where the suspect allegedly preyed on his victims.
Attorney Brian Claypool announced the legal action during a press conference with Rogelio Monroy, one of the four victims Uller allegedly molested while he was a volunteer at the Police Activities League in the 1980s and 90s (PAL).
Uller, 50, was charged last month with lewd acts upon a child, oral copulation of a person under 18 and continuous sexual abuse ("Santa Monica City Employee Charged with Five Counts of Sexual Crimes," October 23, 2018).
Uller, who pleaded not guilty, was found dead in his apartment last Thursday morning after apparently killing himself ("Uller Found Dead in Apparent Suicide," November 15, 2018).
The plaintiff is seeking to temporarily close PAL, which is supervised by the City, while an independent investigation is conducted.
The City, Claypool said, is responsible for allowing Uller to continue to prey on young teenage boys for 15 to 20 years.
"I lay this at the doorstep of the City," Claypool told The Lookout Tuesday. "Saying 'we didn't know' is not good enough."
City officials on Tuesday said they received a claim "filed by an alleged victim of Eric Uller" that "relates to conduct by Mr. Uller alleged to have occurred in 1987 and 1988.
The suit, they said, also "references criminal charges against Mr. Uller relating to other alleged conduct in the 1980s and 1990s."
"The City remains committed to responding to the horrific and heartbreaking allegations underlying the charges against Eric Uller with transparency and accountability," the statement said.
"The City will carefully review the claim submitted today and determine how it will respond."
Claypool said PAL and the City created a "culture" conducive to alleged child predators like Uller and former PAL employee Donald Condon, who was arrested in 2014 and charged with five counts of child molestation.
Condon accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to three years probation and required to register as a sex offender.
"This was a playground for child predators," said Claypool, a lead attorney in the case against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for child abuse at Miramonte Elementary School.
"They have everything in place a child predator would feed on," he said. "It's a culture that they created that isolated these perverts from being caught."
Claypool also is calling for an investigation conducted independently of the internal probe launched this month, which he said was compromised because the investigators were paid by the City.
"We're going to get to the bottom of this," Claypool said. "Did anyone in the City know they were perverts and didn't do anything about it or did they not know when they should have known."
Last month, the City hired a law firm to help determine if officials were warned about Uller's behavior and took no action ("Santa Monica City Officials Take Additional Actions as Sexual Assault Crisis Expands," October 25, 2018).
It also has hired a consultant to review the policies and practices of its current youth programs.
Claypool said Uller posed as a police officer and used his authority to prey on the most vulnerable victims -- at-risk youth that attended PAL.
"These kids are as vulnerable as they get," he said. "They come from low-income families. Their parents hold two jobs and are often working at night."
Uller would take the youngsters out for pizza, ice cream, arcade games and movies, then take them to play video games at his apartment where the alleged molestation would take place, Claypool said.
"There was absolutely no supervision," he said. "You can't bring complete strangers into the lives of these kids without a serious background check."
Had the alleged victims come from well-to-do families or an affluent part of town, Claypool said, "the (PAL) program would be shut down and heads would be rolling."
"I don't know why there's not an outrage," Claypool said. "This is a national story."
Claypool said he expects other victims to come forward and join the lawsuit.
"We did this so Rogelio could inspire others," he said. "It's making sure it never happens again."
|copyrightCopyright 1999-2018 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.||Disclosures|