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 report that grew out of his online meanderings, "Police Sexual Abuse of Teenage Girls," co-authored by graduate student Dawn Irlbeck, uncovered a "disturbing pattern" of cops sexually exploiting female (and, to a lesser degree, male) Explorers.

Among the cases Walker highlighted was one from 1998 in Largo, Florida, in which an officer accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl killed himself. "I'm not the only person whose having sex with a minor at the Police Department," the officer wrote in his suicide note. "They really need to tighten up the rules with those Explorers."

Largo's police chief initially dismissed claims of a wider scandal as groundless. But an outside investigator subsequently found that at least 11 Largo cops had had sex with Explorers, dating back to the late 1980s.

Brownwood, Texas, Sergeant Vince Ariaz allegedly forced himself on one underage Explorer and performed oral sex on another.
Brownwood Police Department
Brownwood, Texas, Sergeant Vince Ariaz allegedly forced himself on one underage Explorer and performed oral sex on another.
University of Nebraska professor Samuel Walker was the first to publicize the cops-having-sex-with-Explorers phenomenon in a paper he co-authored in 2003.
Courtesy of Samuel Walker
University of Nebraska professor Samuel Walker was the first to publicize the cops-having-sex-with-Explorers phenomenon in a paper he co-authored in 2003.

The following year, in Eureka, Missouri, Walker reported, an internal investigation was launched into two officers accused of having sex with a 16-year-old female Explorer whom they'd taken on ride-alongs. The investigating officer, evidently intent on re-enacting the crime, then took the girl on a ride-along of his own, during which he too had sex with her.

And in a case that came to light the year of Walker's report, David Kalish, who had risen to the rank of deputy chief of the LAPD, was accused of molesting at least six boys he'd supervised when they were LAPD Explorers in the 1970s. One accuser said Kalish had forced him to perform oral sex in his squad car while the two were in uniform.

In all, Walker listed 32 cases of police officers sexually exploiting Explorers, many involving multiple officers, multiple Explorers or both. Many more cases had surely eluded his radar, he said, either because they were never reported, were hushed up or simply didn't appear in his online searches.

After the Associated Press reported his findings, Walker used the ensuing attention to take police departments to task. Appearing on CNN in June 2003, he told a righteously outraged Bill Hemmer, "There appears to be a real pattern of abuse across the country. What I think it indicates is a failure of police departments to supervise these programs...and really investigate allegations of misconduct."

That evening, Anderson Cooper interviewed a 16-year-old former Explorer from San Diego who'd been seduced by an officer she'd gone with on frequent ride-alongs. "I don't want to hear this ever happening again," "Jane" told Cooper, her face blurred to conceal her identity. "This wouldn't have happened if they would have done their jobs."

Spared the public shaming was the organization charged with overseeing the program. In 1991, under fire for its longstanding policy of not allowing atheists, homosexuals or girls among its ranks, the Boy Scouts spun off the Explorer program into a more-inclusive subsidiary it named Learning for Life. Scouting officials described the move as the natural evolution of a fast-growing segment of its organization that had aims separate from the core mission of instilling traditional values in American boys. Critics smelled a different plot: at once inoculating a popular program from the legal challenges besetting the Boy Scouts while providing political cover for the organization as a whole.

Whatever the motivations, it would take Learning for Life years to begin imposing Explorer safety standards on police departments. The organization's "Safety First" policy, with a blanket ban on fraternization between cops and Explorers and limits placed on ride-alongs, first appeared on Learning for Life's Web site in 2002. (Thornton says Learning for Life barred underage Explorers from going on overnight ride-alongs starting in the mid-1990s, declining to specify further. She declined to say whether its no-fraternization rule went into effect before 2002.) Learning for Life had all but ripped the weathered page from the Long Beach PD's manual — the same rules that, years earlier, Boy Scout official Hollis Spindle had dismissed as unrealistic.

Summoning the courage to enforce the new rules would prove to be another matter.
_____________________

As Walker broadcast his warning to the public, a 27-year-old cop two months into his career at the Bremerton Police Department was getting to know a shy, immature 19-year-old volunteering there as an Explorer. Over the following months, in the hours spent on ride-alongs in his squad car, Officer Kelly Meade and "Bethany" progressed in stages from flirty conversation to a stolen kiss to heavy petting. Eventually, they started having sex.

In February 2004, their passionate e-mails intercepted, they came clean to department investigators about their liaison. Bremerton's then-police chief, Robert Forbes, in a written reprimand, told Meade that though Bethany was of age, the officer had brought shame upon himself, the department and the Explorer program by sleeping with her. "You were in a position of power and apparent, if not actual, authority," Chief Forbes wrote, sparks all but flying from his keyboard. Bethany, he added, "continued to refer to you by your title as an officer, not by your first name."

Forbes handed down a ten-day suspension without pay. Meade, claiming ignorance of the no-fraternization policy, filed an appeal. Bremerton's rule prohibiting outside relationships between cops and Explorers had been created just as Meade and Bethany were getting acquainted — after the supervisor in charge of the Explorers, having heard about Walker's report, decided to update the Explorer manual. But the same language never made it into the department's official rule book.

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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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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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