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Santa Monica City Officials Take Additional Actions as Sexual Assault Crisis Expands
By Jorge Casuso
October 25, 2018 -- With six more individuals claiming Santa Monica City employee Eric Uller sexually assaulted them, the City issued an update of the measures it is taking to deal with the growing crisis.The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Thursday that the six individuals contacted them after Uller was arrested last week for lewd acts with a minor dating back to the 1990s ("Santa Monica City Employee Arrested for Lewd Acts with a Minor," October 18 2018).
On Monday the Los Angeles County District Attoney's office charged Uller with five counts of sexual crimes against four teenage boys ("Santa Monica City Employee Charged with Five Counts of Sexual Crimes," October 23, 2018).
He faces three counts of lewd acts upon a child, two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 and one count of continuous sexual abuse.
In the update issued Thursday, City officials said Uller, a systems analyst working in the Public Safety building, was an instructor in the City’s Youth Tech Program that ran from 2012 to 2017. The summer program prepared high school students for careers in the tech industry.
Uller has been placed on administrative leave pending resolution of the charges.
City officials are determining Uller's role at PAL before he became an instructor in 2012, said Constance Farrell, the City Public Information Officer.
"That information became known to us last week," she said, referring to Uller's volunteer work. "We don't have information on that yet."
Farrell said the City is determining "what capacity a volunteer role entailed."
School Board member Oscar de la Torre, who runs the Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC), said former PAL participants told him Uller was at the center "on a daily basis" in the early and mid 1990s.
De la Torre said that he personally informed high-ranking law enforcement and City officials about Uller's alleged criminal behavior starting in the early 2000s ("High Ranking Santa Monica Officials Told About Alleged Child Molestation, School Board Member Says," October 22, 2018).
On Thursday morning, City officials contacted the families whose children participated in the the City’s Youth Tech Program when Uller was an instructor from 2012 until last year.
They informed them of the arrest and criminal charges and shared contact information for the Sheriff’s Department "should they be aware of any facts that may be relevant to the criminal investigation."
The City also has launched an independent investigation of "allegations that the City previously knew, or should have known, of Mr. Uller’s alleged criminal conduct," according to the statement.
The investigation will be conducted by Irma Rodríguez Moises and Gabriel Sandoval at the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.
The alleged victims so far were Latino boys who lived in the Pico Neighborhood.
The investigation also will review "whether the City had in place sufficient procedures to encourage reporting of such conduct, and to ensure that reports are acted on," the statement said.
"The City continues to actively review its current procedures relating to youth programs to be sure we are doing everything we can to give parents and community members confidence in our vigilance and reporting procedures and the safety of those programs," officials said.
The review will help the City "reassess its procedures in light of recognized best practices."
City officials also said they have notified the School District's mental health coordinator and are working with local mental health providers to ensure appropriate services are available.
"The City recognizes that incidents like these can trigger physical and psychological distress," officials said.
Uller is expected back in court for arraignment November 5 and is being held on $750,000 bail.
Anyone with information that may be relevant to the criminal investigation should contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims Bureau, at (877) 710-5273 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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