Damage claims were filed against the city of Santa Monica and Santa Monica Police Activities League on behalf of six alleged victims who accuse both organizations of failing to protect them from sexual abuse inflicted by a former city employee and PAL volunteer, an attorney announced Tuesday.
The claimants allege the defendants intentionally failed to investigate and covered up numerous allegations made against Eric Uller that demonstrated he was sexually abusing young boys he met through the PAL program dating as far back as the early 1980s.
“It’s despicable that the city of Santa Monica and PAL chose to protect their own jobs and reputations rather than protect the numerous young boys who were abused by Uller for two decades,” plaintiffs’ attorney David Ring said.
“They knew of multiple allegations against Uller, yet did nothing to investigate the complaints and covered up the information, allowing him unfettered access to young boys. The emotional damages this has caused my client will last a lifetime, and the city and PAL must be held accountable.”
Eric Uller worked as a volunteer for PAL, an after-school program for youth operated by the city and staffed by the league. Uller was arrested in October 2018 on allegations of child sexual abuse of several young boys dating back to the 1980s. He committed suicide in November.
The city of Santa Monica issued a statement Tuesday declaring that “child sexual abuse is a horrific and heartbreaking crime” and that it “is committed to responding to the allegations related to the charges formerly brought against Eric Uller with transparency and accountability.”
“The city will carefully review the claims submitted today,” the statement said. “The city has retained Praesidium, an outside consultant, to review the policies and practices of current youth programs to ensure that best practices for preventing incidents of abuse are in place throughout city programs.”
In November, when another man filed a damage claim against the city over Uller’s alleged actions, the city said it “remains committed to responding to the horrific and heartbreaking allegations underlying the charges against Eric Uller with transparency and accountability.”
City officials said last year they had hired a law firm to investigate allegations the city either knew or should have known about Uller’s alleged conduct, along with a consulting firm to review the operation of youth programs to ensure policies were in place to prevent abuse.
A damages claim is a precursor to a lawsuit.
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