The city of Santa Monica announced it was paying more money to settle claims after a former employee of its Police Activities League (PAL) program allegedly abused more than 200 children.
The settlements now total nearly $230 million, but survivors and attorneys say the city is not at fault.
These abuse survivors and their attorney believe there are other questions that need to be answered, primarily this: how did the city of Santa Monica and its police department allow more than 200 children to be abused for a decade? They are convinced that someone knew or should have known.
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It happened 16 times over a two-year period in his car in parking lots.
Aldo, 43, says he was 12 when Eric Uller started abusing him.
Aldo is one of 229 victims who have now come to the city of Santa Monica for nearly $230 million for alleged abuse that began in the late 1980s and continued through the early 2000s.
“How is it possible that so many young children in the city of Santa Monica suffered this horrific abuse?” said Brian Claypool, an attorney.
Uller was a civilian city employee and volunteer with the Santa Monica Police Activities League for more than a decade, once being named employee of the year.
His alleged victims say he posed as a police officer and often wore a badge and handcuffs as he abused them at several locations around the city. He was arrested in 2018 and later died of an apparent suicide.
In previous interviews, the former Santa Monica police chief and a former president of the Police Activities League denied knowing Uller was doing anything wrong. The lawyer added that it was impossible for anyone to know.
“We want to know why the City of Santa Monica never conducted a single investigation of Eric Uller until 2019. There have been multiple reports of Eric Uller molesting young children in the Santa Monica Police Activities League (PAL) program in the 1990s. 1990s, but not a single Santa Monica Police Department investigation,” Claypool said.
In a statement, the City of Santa Monica noted:
“The suffering endured by the victims is unfathomable. It’s been a sad part of our city’s history. The settlement represents the city’s best effort to ease your pain. The actions of this former employee occurred two or three decades ago and do not represent the exemplary work of our employees and the PAL program today.”
“There’s really nothing that can fix what happened, you know, I’m grateful this is coming out so we can stop any potential abuse in the future,” he said.
The city of Santa Monica said it created a child protection committee and hired a child protection officer to oversee youth programs and update volunteer recruitment.