A 15-year-old girl police say was sexually abused by a former Los Angeles police officer while she was part of the department’s cadet program has filed a claim against the city alleging the officer was improperly supervised.
The girl, who has not been publicly identified because she is a minor, also was a central player in scheme by a group of cadets at the 77th Street and Pacific divisions to steal LAPD squad cars and other equipment, according to police.
“The 77th Street Division improperly supervised its police officers,” the girl’s attorney, Luis Carrillo, told City News Service. “The captains, lieutenants and commanders improperly supervised the cadet program and gave officers too much access with the kids. They didn’t really have hands-on control.”
On June 14, a pair of high-speed chases involving pilfered LAPD vehicles ended in crashes and led to the arrests of three cadets. Four more cadets were subsequently arrested.
The LAPD believes the juvenile cadets were able to take advantage of flaws in the kit room computer system and gain access to the squad cars and other equipment, with the thefts going unnoticed for weeks.
The department believes the cadets impersonated officers during traffic stops on several occasions, according to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
After the arrest of the cadets, the department discovered the alleged sexual abuse of the girl by former Officer Robert Cain, 31, who has been charged with a half-dozen felonies.
Cain also faces charges in San Bernardino County, stemming from the seizure of weapons at his home in Rancho Cucamonga. Cain, who worked at the 77th Street Division, resigned after his arrest.
According to Carrillo, the department improperly supervised Cain and the entire cadet program. He also said officers knew the cadets were taking squad cars.
“I believe the captains and the lieutenants looked the other way when things were happening in the cadet program. I mean, kids driving around with police vehicles? Surely they had the permission of the police officers at the 77th Division,” he said.
Carrillo also said Cain had been transferred from the Van Nuys Division due to a personnel complaint and that his commanding officers knew he was a “problem officer” who should not have unsupervised access to a minor.
The LAPD has already conducted its own investigation into the cadet program and in August announced a series of changes, including limiting one-on- one contact between cadets and officers, instituting formal training for Youth Services officers and developing guidelines for social media interaction between cadets and department personnel.
Beck said in June that the investigation had not “so far” led to any other full-time employees with knowledge of — or involvement in — the car thefts.
Josh Rubenstein, a spokesman for the LAPD, said the department could not comment on pending litigation but it has “conducted a `top to bottom’ review of our cadet program earlier this year, and working collaboratively with the inspector general, and the Board of Police Commissioners took aggressive steps to ensure youth program participants are always safe in our care.”
—City News Service