A former Santa Monica Police Athletic League volunteer who was accused of molesting four boys dating back as far as 1986 was found dead in his apartment of an apparent suicide hours before a court appearance, city officials said Thursday.

Eric Uller, 50, had been scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.

“The city was notified this morning that Eric Uller was found dead in his apartment,” according to a statement issued by the city on Thursday. “Initial indications are that it appears to be a suicide. The city was shocked to receive this news.”

Uller had been charged with three of lewd acts on a child, two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 and one count of continuous sexual abuse, but officials said charges could be forthcoming as the investigation continued. Sheriff’s investigators said earlier at least another six people had come forward since Uller’s arrest to allege that he sexually assaulted them.

Uller was working for the city as a systems analyst when he was arrested. The city placed him on administrative leave when the allegations arose.

According to the city’s statement, an independent investigation into “allegations that the city previously knew or should have known of, but failed to address” Uller’s alleged conduct will continue.

“The city remains committed to seeing this investigation through,” according to the city. “… The independent investigation is already underway, and will also review whether the city had in place sufficient procedures to encourage reporting of such conduct and to ensure that reports are acted on. The City continues to encourage anyone who has information relevant to the independent investigation to reach out directly to the independent counsel at www.aalrr.com/contact-cerritos or (562) 653-3200.

“The city also remains committed to conducting a review of the policies and practices of the many youth programs funded and operated by the city, including PAL. The city is in the process of retaining an outside consultant, Praesidium Inc., to review the policies and practices of its youth programs and provide guidance on best practices for preventing any future incidents of abuse.”

Authorities said Uller molested four boys who were between the ages of 12 and 16 at the time the alleged crimes were committed — between 1986 and 1995.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Deeds said last month that Uller targeted young boys, then “befriended them, groomed them and then he sexually assaulted them.”

Uller came under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau in June, when detectives received information from the Santa Monica Police Department, which received an anonymous tip about the alleged lewd acts.

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