This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
OC Weekly Details Breadth of Sex Abuse in Police 'Explorers' Program
We've done our best to document the recent criminal goings-on of the Explorers program, a program in which teenagers are welcomed into police departments to learn the tricks of the trade. In just the past few months, at least two officers have faced charges of having sex with underage girls who were part of the Explorers.
Now, the OC Weekly has published an extremely thorough piece detailing the extent of officers' sexual misconduct under the cover of the Explorers program over the years, and it's ugly.
Allegations of sexual abuse -- officers having sex with underage girls, mostly, although in some cases, with boys -- date back to the 1970s:
"...in the mid-1970s, the first Law Enforcement Explorer Girls (or LEEGs, as they were more commonly known at the time) appeared in the Los Angeles Police Department's rundown Tinseltown outpost. A couple of dozen strong, they were among the first girls allowed into Explorers, a Boy Scouts career-preparation program dating to the 1940s... As a token of appreciation, the Hollywood cops began taking the Explorer girls, most of them 15 and 16 years old, on overnight, weekend camping trips. The tradition endured for more than two years, until the autumn of 1976, when one of the girls, uncomfortable with the campsite activities, complained to department higher-ups. The camping trips, she reported, were little more than orgies.
When the news broke, the task of handling the ensuing media onslaught fell to an up-and-coming deputy chief named Daryl Gates, who later gained notoriety as the unsympathetic public face of the LAPD during the Rodney King affair. He was quick to dismiss the severity of what had occurred among his Hollywood cops and the girls they were tasked with mentoring. First of all, he told a scrum of reporters, this was not a sex scandal. "There was no rape, no seduction," he said. "There was a lot of agreement."
It would be nice to say that the mentality surrounding the program changed over the years, and this type of behavior became abhorrent, but here's a snippet of what happened in the 1980s:
...in Eureka, Missouri, Walker reported, an internal investigation was launched into two officers accused of having sex with a 16-year-old female Explorer whom they'd taken on ride-alongs. The investigating officer, evidently intent on re-enacting the crime, then took the girl on a ride-along of his own, during which he also had sex with her.
And more recently:
Two years ago in Madison, Connecticut, police chief Paul Jakubson resigned after an outside investigation found he had "deliberately and repeatedly ignored, condoned and thereby facilitated sexual misconduct" for more than a decade. In addition to turning a blind eye to his officers' having sex with prostitutes, Jakubson allegedly reversed a lieutenant's decision barring an officer from repeatedly taking an underage Explorer on ride-alongs, thereby allowing that officer to continue to have sex with the girl unimpeded.
And then we have our two San Bernadino officers charged with assault just a few months ago. From the sound of all this, the Explorer program is entrenched in the tradition of being a guise under which grown men (and yes, it does seem to be all men) can recruit and then abuse underage girls. With this many reports of criminal activity against minors, perhaps it's time for this program to be put on pause until it can be cleaned up.