The report that grew out of his online meanderings, "Police Sexual Abuse of Teenage Girls," co-authored by graduate student Dawn Irlbeck, uncovered a "disturbing pattern" of cops sexually exploiting female (and, to a lesser degree, male) Explorers.

Among the cases Walker highlighted was one from 1998 in Largo, Florida, in which an officer accused of having sex with a sixteen-year-old girl killed himself. "I'm not the only person whose having sex with a minor at the Police Department," the officer wrote in his suicide note. "They really need to tighten up the rules with those Explorers."

Largo's police chief initially dismissed claims of a wider scandal as groundless. But an outside investigator subsequently found that at least eleven Largo cops had had sex with Explorers, dating back to the late 1980s.

Former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates investigated the first Explorer case in 1976. Said Gates of the alleged “orgies” between cops and underage girls: “There was no rape, no seduction. There was a lot of agreement.”
Former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates investigated the first Explorer case in 1976. Said Gates of the alleged “orgies” between cops and underage girls: “There was no rape, no seduction. There was a lot of agreement.”

The following year in Eureka, Walker reported, an internal investigation was launched into two officers accused of having sex with a sixteen-year-old female Explorer whom they'd taken on ride-alongs. The investigating officer, evidently intent on reenacting the crime, then took the girl on a ride-along of his own, during which he too had sex with her.

And in a case that came to light the year of Walker's report, David Kalish, who had risen to the rank of deputy chief of the LAPD, was accused of molesting at least six boys he'd supervised when they were LAPD Explorers in the 1970s. One accuser said Kalish had forced him to perform oral sex in his squad car while the two were in uniform.

In all, Walker listed 32 cases of police officers sexually exploiting Explorers, many involving multiple officers, multiple Explorers or both. Many more cases had surely eluded his radar, he said, either because they were never reported, were hushed up or simply didn't appear in his online searches.

After the Associated Press reported his findings, Walker used the ensuing attention to take police departments to task. Appearing on CNN in June 2003, he told a righteously outraged Bill Hemmer, "There appears to be a real pattern of abuse across the country. What I think it indicates is a failure of police departments to supervise these programs...and really investigate allegations of misconduct."

That evening, Anderson Cooper interviewed a sixteen-year-old former Explorer from San Diego who'd been seduced by an officer she'd gone with on frequent ride-alongs. "I don't want to hear this ever happening again," "Jane" told Cooper, her face blurred to conceal her identity. "This wouldn't have happened if they would have done their jobs."

Spared from the public shaming was the organization charged with overseeing the program. In 1991, under fire for its long-standing policy of not allowing atheists, homosexuals or girls among its ranks, the Boy Scouts spun off the Explorer program into a more inclusive subsidiary it named Learning for Life. Scouting officials described the move as the natural evolution of a fast-growing segment of its organization that had aims separate from the core mission of instilling traditional values in American boys. Critics smelled a different plot: at once inoculating a popular program from the legal challenges besetting the Boy Scouts while providing political cover for the organization as a whole.

Whatever the motivations, it would take Learning for Life years to begin imposing Explorer safety standards on police departments. The organization's "Safety First" policy, with a blanket ban on fraternization between cops and Explorers and limits placed on ride-alongs, first appeared on Learning for Life's website in 2002. (Thornton says Learning for Life barred underage Explorers from going on overnight ride-alongs starting in the mid-1990s, declining to specify further. She declined to say whether its no-fraternization rule went into effect before 2002.) Learning for Life had all but ripped the weathered page from the Long Beach PD's manual — the same rules that, years earlier, Boy Scout official Hollis Spindle had dismissed as unrealistic.

Summoning the courage to enforce the new rules would prove to be another matter.

As Walker broadcast his warning to the public, a 27-year-old cop two months into his career at the Bremerton, Washington, Police Department was getting to know a shy, immature nineteen-year-old volunteering there as an Explorer. Over the following months, in the hours spent on ride-alongs in his squad car, Officer Kelly Meade and "Bethany" progressed in stages from flirty conversation to a stolen kiss to heavy petting. Eventually, they started having sex.

In February 2004, their passionate e-mails intercepted, they came clean to department investigators about their liaison. Bremerton's then-police chief, Robert Forbes, in a written reprimand, told Meade that though Bethany was of age, the officer had brought shame upon himself, the department and the Explorer program by sleeping with her. "You were in a position of power and apparent, if not actual, authority," Chief Forbes wrote, sparks all but flying from his keyboard. Bethany, he added, "continued to refer to you by your title as an officer, not by your first name."

Forbes handed down a ten-day suspension without pay. Meade, claiming ignorance of the no-fraternization policy, filed an appeal. Bremerton's rule prohibiting outside relationships between cops and Explorers had been created just as Meade and Bethany were getting acquainted — after the supervisor in charge of the Explorers, having heard about Walker's report, decided to update the Explorer manual. But the same language never made it into the department's official rule book.

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16 comments
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Happy_Happy_Happy_90
Happy_Happy_Happy_90

........I Саn`t bеlеivе...Мy friеnd`s sistеr mакеs 78/hr оn thе intеrnеt. Shе hаs bееn unеmрlоуеd fоr 11 mоnths but lаst mоnth hеr incоmе wаs 7985$ јust wоrкing оn thе РС fоr а fеw hоurs. Read on this wеbsitе....... C a s h M a n y . c о m

Brad Hicks
Brad Hicks

Any organization that allows adults unsupervised access to other people's minor children, under any circumstance, is just setting itself up for this kind of trouble; not because such setups encourage such behavior, but because if someone prone to such behavior gets into such an organization, there is nothing stopping them, and little or no chance of catching them. Doesn't matter if it's cops, teachers, doctors, clergy, anybody: if they're going to be with kids, they need to not be alone with them. That there are any organizations left that don't realize this and do something about it, after several decades' worth of scandals? That there are any organizations left who think "it can't happen here, because none of our people would do that"? Just blows my mind.

Wesley Mcgranor
Wesley Mcgranor

Such (and more) delinquency seems to be standard in policing. The test great-grandfather had, must be impassable for these postmodern types. Heres a tip, at least make marriage a part of such a ritual.

CHUCK ZITO
CHUCK ZITO

men perverts use that clean cut short haired yuppie office geek look to fool kids and parents into thinking they are good guys and can be trusted. you ever notice that little detail? its all a con job so dont fall for it parents or you kids. wise up to clean cut perverts and their ways.

CHUCK ZITO
CHUCK ZITO

Blame Satan 666 the Devil. 666 he is behind all evil sin. he use humans as his hand puppets and this is another one of the results of that. is that simple enough for ya?

Goodscouter
Goodscouter

It is unfortunate that in large youth organizations, like in the BSA and Learning for Life, that a few bad apples pop up, take advantage of the situation, and make the reputation of these two enriching programs look evil where the majority of good volunteers really make it a positive growth experience for teenagers. It is interesting how dated some of the stories are. With current youth protection standards, ride alongs have to consist of the same gender participants. That some departments outside of the Saint Louis area let male leaders take out female Explorers just floors me. This should serve as a wake up call to departments to review the rules and training annually and keep the program on the up and up for the youth. The national Learning for Life office does conduct one heck of a great Law Enforcement Conference for 4,000 Explorers bi-annually.

check engine
check engine

Seems Rock Hill Coed Post 544 was1st not LA.Started about 1971, with first campout at Mid-America Wentzville SCCA race.By 1976 was probably world largest, as general interest with no police.Parties much more fun outdoors in large groups, rather than in back seats

Wolfinstl
Wolfinstl

"...mostly leaving police departments to police themselves". Move along citizen, nothing to see here.

smash44
smash44

Isn't it nice to now the Good Ole Police Unions will see to it they all receive their taxpayer-provided pensions -- for rapists.

MandoMadMan
MandoMadMan

Although I like and respect the policemen I know - like my friend says, "There are scoundrels in every line of work."

Sexually abusing teens - that's pretty low.

CHUCK ZITO
CHUCK ZITO

you should read the cops gone bad website. cops are more evil and criminal now days than the so called bad guys they chase.

Paythepriceasyougo
Paythepriceasyougo

Some of these stories would be good for Riverfront Times Crap like a Mexican.

Boy Scout Supporter
Boy Scout Supporter

amazing that this article tries to place a disproportionate blame on the scouting program

when the explorers was spun off, due to 'demands' to be more 'inclusive of girls, many of the issues the boy scouts were dealing with previously were being addressed, like no one-on-one contact (due to pedophiles searching out boys in the scouts) and requiring certain training and background checks (ensuring no predators allowed in a position of leadership)...as well as no homosexuals

these positions, at the time, were branded as homophobic and religiously driven...and many shunned the boy scout organization...even to this day...

and when an explorer scout chose the law enforcement path, the scouting organization still had the charter PD fill out the necessary paperwork and required training...

and they were police officers, right?

what else would you want the scouts to do?

maybe the should audit every public school, since we all know date rape is occuring on a monthly basis in the bathroom stalls, right?

or have all the students take a drug test randomly throughout the year, because we know many of them are experimenting with drugs?

sooner or later, you have to have faith that an organization run by adults has the best interests of kids in mind...

if not, lock your kids up in a closet...

u can keep kids safe
u can keep kids safe

It amazes me that some are still surprised when they hear about stuff like this. No one in society is "above" committing acts of pedophilia and underage sexual assault including cops. Time and again the media shows that those people we feel should be most trustworthy - coaches, police, politicians, teachers, doctors, etc. - are capable of deviant sexual behavior with children.

This story is another example of why there should always be increased scrutiny of anyone anytime children are involved. If something seems suspect than it probably is. Never just assume things are okay because of the trust placed in that person or the length of time they've been doing their job.

Miker54
Miker54

Convict, jail and tatoo "Child Molester" on offender's forehead and let nature run it's course.

 
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