Hands-On Experience

Dozens of teenage Explorers have been sexually abused by police officers. Critics say the Boy Scouts, who oversee the program, should share the blame.

The luster was long gone from Hollywood's star when, in the mid-1970s, the first Law Enforcement Explorer Girls (or LEEGS, as they were more commonly known at the time) appeared in the Los Angeles Police Department's rundown Tinseltown outpost. A couple dozen strong, they were among the first girls allowed into Explorers, a Boy Scouts career-preparation program dating to the 1940s. The LEEGS trailed cops as they patrolled the neon-lit expanses of porn shops, massage parlors and peep shows on their beats. They occasionally helped control event crowds and assisted with station-house desk work.

As a token of appreciation, the Hollywood cops began taking the Explorer girls, most of them 15 and 16 years old, on overnight weekend camping trips. The tradition endured for more than two years, until the autumn of 1976, when one of the girls, uncomfortable with the campsite activities, complained to department higher-ups. The camping trips, she reported, were little more than orgies.

When the news broke, the task of handling the ensuing media onslaught fell to an up-and-coming deputy chief named Daryl Gates, who later gained notoriety as the unsympathetic public face of the LAPD during the Rodney King affair. He was quick to dismiss the severity of what had occurred among his Hollywood cops and the girls they were tasked with mentoring. First of all, he told a scrum of reporters, this was not a sex scandal: "There was no rape, no seduction," he said. "There was a lot of agreement."

Ultimately, it was found that at least six cops had had sex with at least 16 teenaged Explorers. While some officers involved were fired, others remained in their jobs. The first publicly known case of its kind, it remains among the largest in terms of the number of cops and Explorers involved. But it wouldn't be the last.

Over the next decade, a handful of new cases would come to light, all in California. But though an underage Signal Hill Police Department Explorer told of having sex with four officers who'd mentored her over three years ending in 1982, and six sheriff's deputies were fired for sleeping with the same 17-year-old girl in Victorville two years later, the Boy Scouts remained untouched by the fallout.

That would grow more difficult in 1987. That February, Lieutenant Robert Padilla of the Long Beach, California, Police Department met a 16-year-old Explorer while she was on desk duty. The middle-aged lieutenant and the teenager hit it off, and he invited her to his house. Twice that month, they had sex. In March, after their tryst had been exposed, Padilla was fired from his job, arrested and eventually placed on probation.

Chastened, the department put in place a set of rules governing the Explorer program. They forbade fraternization between police officers and Explorers, barred female Explorers from riding along with male officers, placed limits on the frequency with which Explorers were allowed to ride along, and put a higher-up in charge of overseeing ride-along pairings. As the department got its house in order, the Boy Scouts emphasized the anomalous nature of what had happened.

"This is an isolated incident," Kurt Weaver, Scout Executive of the Long Beach Area Council of the Boy Scouts, told a reporter at the time — though in fact it was one of three such incidents that had come to light in a three-month period, all in southern California.

In January 1987, Sergeant Robert Kredel, in charge of the Irvine PD's Explorer program, resigned after being accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy during an Explorer camping trip the previous fall, reportedly leaving the boy suicidal. Two months later, Officer Timothy Campbell of the Simi Valley PD was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old female Explorer. Amid assertions that two other Simi Valley officers had also had sex with the girl — including a detective specializing in sex crimes and child-abuse cases, who was soon fired — the Simi Valley PD considered enacting rules similar to those in Long Beach.

Meanwhile, Hollis Spindle, a Boy Scout executive in Ventura County, provided insight into his organization's approach to such incidents. "This rarely happens, so we have no guidelines," he told the Los Angeles Times. "We can't have a policy that people will not meet and talk with each other when they are not in an Explorer activity. We can't stop people from being people."
_____________________

In 2003, Samuel Walker, a professor at the University of Nebraska and a leading scholar on police misconduct, was researching a follow-up to a report he'd published a year earlier. In "Driving While Female," Walker had shed light on the phenomenon of police officers sexually harassing and assaulting women they'd pulled over for traffic infractions. Walker reported discovering an average of nearly 20 cases per year of police officers doing everything from forcing women to walk home in their underwear to raping them in their cars after pulling them over. His findings, he said, were "clearly the tip of the iceberg."

As Walker scoured the Internet to prepare an update, he stumbled upon a different trend: Police officers sexually assaulting Explorers. "Just by changing around the search terms, we were able to find a large number of these cases," he says.

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Chester
Chester

This article is really hot!

hdmi
hdmi

Guess this was just too much for 'The Blue Wall of Silence" to handle... Well, anymore...

Some professions just draw certain types. Authoritarian professions like police officer attract everything from do-gooders (the majority and barely tolerable) to BTK types to these guys.

But notice how if you ever go to court over so much as a ticket, and imply that the officer is anything but angelically perfect they will look at you like you've commited a blasphemy?

Pete Townshend said it best: Its an eminence front... Its a put on...

sean
sean

The US Park Police in Washington DC has had a problem with this for several years.

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vengtee
vengtee

Dude, most 15 year old girls are quite sexually active and know exactly what they want!www.Total-Privacy dot US

Lan
Lan

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DeathBreath
DeathBreath

At the end of a lengthy career as a mental health professional in the Texas prison system, I can safely say that one thing, "nothing surprises me anymore." I have seen it all & then some.

Here is a word of the wise most people don't want to hear. Most psychopaths possess one major element to assist them in their crimes, they can charm you so very well. I believe the judge who passed sentence on Bundy even commented on this.

If a seasoned judge can be swayed, why in the hell do you think you won't be fooled? Many cops think they know the minds of offenders, but they don't, really. Many officers are trained to deal with the detection of criminal activity and the suppression of such with various arrests. Then, they get carted off to jail. Cops don't spend time talking to offenders for years and years. Probation workers, parolee officers, & those who work with this group know what I am talking about.

But, to sit in a prison office & listen to hours upon hours of offenders bragging about their crimes, manipulating others, & preying upon the good nature of the public, you get a completely different perspective.

I've listened to pastors, former prison guards, turn keys (see Ruiz lawsuit), youth workers, Boy Scout Leaders, and police officers talk about themselves and their crimes, particularly those involving underage sex.

Do I believe in rehabilitation? Well, not really. In some cases, when a person was actually "habilitated", had a job, was dependable, and then got busted for a crime, one might argue for rehabilitation.

The worst of the sex offenders I have encountered are generally high verbal, cunning, and quite charming in their action. Churches are sometimes easy targets for criminals. Anyone can ask for redemption after a life of crime. Some Christians are all too forgiving for their own good. Even with this knowledge, it does not deter their tendency to trust others.

But, when some steamy pile of shit molests a child and is a member of the help community, I immediately think of an inverted cross on which to crucify that motherfucker! Cops are no different. Piss on you.

I know this is a crude message, but I hope I've thumped your trusting fucking heads. Be careful with your children. If a priest wipes his chin after hearing confession from your child, you might need to rethink your trust in others.

A rather jaded view in Texas.

Jkubica2001
Jkubica2001

So, how many of these cops are serving time?

 
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