SANTA MONICA—Decisions to authorize contracts in hiring Child Protection Officers is expected to be discussed by the Santa Monica City Council during their meeting on Tuesday, March 10. The issue was raised after recent sex abuse allegations were made against city volunteers.
The consulting firm, Praesidium, Inc. is expected to be hired by the city of Santa Monica for a total cost of $620,000 over a four year period. The firm is expected to act as Child Protection Officers to protect children against sexual abuse at city-run youth programs.
Each officer will collect and review materials pertaining to city-managed youth programs, conduct periodic on-site reviews of programs’ operations and design and monitor annual training for staff.
The proposal was made by Praesidium to the Santa Monica City Council on October 16, 2019. During the first proposal, recommendations were made for the city to set standard policies that could be applied to all youth programs and to ensure all staff members and volunteers understand “that safety and the protection of children is part of their job.”
Santa Monica hired the firm in November 2018, one month after Eric Uller was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Unit for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor. Uller was a volunteer for Santa Monica Police Activities League starting in 1986. He was accused of sexually molesting boys between the ages of 12 and 16 during his years as a volunteer. Uller was found dead in his apartment one year ago of an apparent suicide at the age of 50.
In addition to hiring the firm, Santa Monica launched a separate investigation against officials who may have knowledge about Uller’s actions. Since the initial allegation against Uller, 17 more individuals have come forward and filed claims against the city of Santa Monica.