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Sheriffs Probing Alleged Child Molestation Cover-up Involving City Hall, Sources Say

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By Jorge Casuso

January 15, 2020 -- A Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigator confirmed Wednesday that the Department's Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau is engaged in an ongoing probe of Santa Monica City Hall.

One source interviewed for the investigation said it centers on a possible cover-up of alleged child molestation cases by a former City employee dating back to the early 1990s.

There is a current investigation within the City of Santa Monica," said Sgt. Jeff Chow, of the Sheriff's Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau. "It's ongoing."

City officials declined to confirm the investigation, referring the question to the Sheriff's office.

But the City's spokesperson, Constance Farrell, said the City would cooperate with such a probe.

"The City of Santa Monica is committed to responding and will cooperate with any and all investigations with the LA County Sheriff's Department," she said.

School Board member Oscar de la Torre, who said he was interviewed by Chow, said the investigation centers on a possible City Hall cover-up of molestation claims against former City employee Eric Uller.

Uller -- a systems analyst for the Information Services Department who worked in the Public Safety building -- was arrested in October 2018 by the Sheriff’ Special Victims Unit for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor 14 or 15 years old ("Santa Monica City Employee Arrested for Lewd Acts with a Minor," October 18, 2018).

Uller committed suicide after he was charged with sexually assaulting four teenage boys while he was a Police Activities League (PAL) volunteer in the 1990s ("Uller Found Dead in Apparent Suicide," November 15, 2018).

Since then, seventeen alleged victims have filed claims against the City, according to the closed session agenda for yesterday's City Council meeting.

De la Torre, who has been a youth leader in the Pico Neighborhood for two decades, claims City officials had long known about Uller's alleged behavior and covered it up ("OPINION -- How the City of Santa Monica Failed Our Children," October 15, 2019).

"It was common knowledge that the individual was molesting children," de la Torre told The Lookout shortly after Uller's arrest ("High Ranking Santa Monica Officials Told About Alleged Child Molestation, School Board Member Says," October 22, 2018)

"Law enforcement officials knew about the rumors, and (Uller) was removed from PAL and given a promotion within the City government," de la Torre said at the time.

He also said he alerted officials in Community and Cultural Services, the department that oversees PAL, and PAL's former director.

A former PAL employee he says was reprimanded for filing a formal complaint with PAL also has been interviewed by Sheriffs investigators, de la Torre said.

The City is currently conducting its own an internal investigation into allegations City officials were warned about Uller's behavior and took no action ("Santa Monica City Officials Take Additional Actions as Sexual Assault Crisis Expands," October 25, 2018).

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