By: Richard Winton | Los Angeles Times
Santa Monica police allowed a civilian employee to volunteer in a youth program — where he went on to molest more than 200 children — despite a 1991 background check that revealed he was arrested as a teen for molesting a toddler he baby-sat, according to a report reviewed by The Times.
Beginning in the late 1980s, Eric Uller preyed on the most vulnerable children in the predominately Latino neighborhoods of Santa Monica, often traveling in an unmarked police vehicle or his personal SUV, which was outfitted with police equipment, according to court records. It took decades for Uller to be exposed before he was ultimately arrested and charged in 2018.
This week, the Santa Monica City Council approved a $122.5-million payout to settle hundreds of claims against the city’s top systems analyst, who died by suicide before his first court appearance. The total settlements now top $229 million — the most costly single-perpetrator sexual disbursement for any municipality.
A retired police investigator told a sheriff’s investigator that Uller reported directly to the chief of police, James Butts. “The rank structure was overlooked for Eric’s behalf,” Slaughter said in the sheriff’s report.
Butts, who led the Santa Monica Police Department from 1991 to 2006 and is now mayor of Inglewood, said Tuesday in an email to The Times that he “was never made aware of any allegations against Uller or anyone in the program.”
Related: Santa Monica Chief Accused of Molestation : Crime: The estranged wife of Police Department head says he sexually and physically abused their young daughter.
In 1992, then police chief James T. Butts Jr. was accused by his ex-wife, a then Inglewood police sergeant, of inappropriately touching their daughter which he dismissed as “patently untrue. This all came out because I filed for divorce and asked for temporary custody.”
Inglewood District 2 Councilman Alex Padilla also served on the Santa Monica police department during Butts’ tenure.
Read the full LA Times article here.
2UrbanGirls contributed to this report.