The Boy Scouts' Police Problem

Dozens of teenage Explorers have been sexually abused by cops. Should Scouts share the blame?

   

THE LUSTER WAS LONG GONE from Hollywood's star when, 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. The LEEGS trailed cops as they patrolled the neon-lit expanses of porn shops, massage parlors, and peep shows on their beats. They occasionally helped control event crowds and assisted with station-house desk work.

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.

Brandon Greenhill admitted to having sex with Explorer "Natalie," making him one of up to seven Bremerton, Washington, police officers accused of having an inappropriate relationship with the girl
Bremerton Police Department
Brandon Greenhill admitted to having sex with Explorer "Natalie," making him one of up to seven Bremerton, Washington, police officers accused of having an inappropriate relationship with the girl
University of Nebraska professor Samuel Walker was the first to publicize the cops-having- sex-with-Explorers phenomenon in a paper he co-authored in 2003
courtesy of Sam Walker
University of Nebraska professor Samuel Walker was the first to publicize the cops-having- sex-with-Explorers phenomenon in a paper he co-authored in 2003

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."

Ultimately, it was found that at least six cops had had sex with at least 16 teenage Explorers. While some officers involved were fired, others remained in their jobs. The first publicly known case of its kind, it remains among the largest in terms of the number of cops and Explorers involved. But it wouldn't be the last.

Over the next decade, a handful of new cases would come to light, all in California. But though an underage Signal Hill Police Department Explorer told of having sex with four officers who'd mentored her over three years ending in 1982, and six sheriff's deputies were fired for sleeping with the same 17-year-old girl in Victorville two years later, the Boy Scouts remained untouched by the fallout.

That would grow more difficult in 1987. That February, Lt. Robert Padilla of the Long Beach, California, Police Department met a 16-year-old Explorer while she was on desk duty. The middle-aged lieutenant and the teenager hit it off, and he invited her to his house. Twice that month, they had sex. In March, after their tryst had been exposed, Padilla was fired from his job, arrested, and eventually placed on probation.

Chastened, the department put in place a set of rules governing the Explorer program. They forbade fraternization between police officers and Explorers, barred female Explorers from riding along with male officers, placed limits on the frequency with which Explorers were allowed to ride along, and put a higher-up in charge of overseeing ride-along pairings. As the department got its house in order, the Boy Scouts emphasized the anomalous nature of what had happened.

"This is an isolated incident," Kurt Weaver, Scout executive of the Long Beach Area Council of the Boy Scouts, told a reporter at the time—though in fact it was one of three such incidents that had come to light in a three-month period, all in southern California.

In January 1987, Sgt. Robert Kredel, in charge of the Irvine PD's Explorer program, resigned after being accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy during an Explorer camping trip the previous fall, reportedly leaving the boy suicidal. Two months later, Officer Timothy Campbell of the Simi Valley PD was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old female Explorer. Amid assertions that two other Simi Valley officers had also had sex with the girl—including a detective specializing in sex crimes and child-abuse cases, who was soon fired—the Simi Valley PD considered enacting rules similar to those in Long Beach.

Meanwhile, Hollis Spindle, a Boy Scout executive in Ventura County, provided insight into his organization's approach to such incidents. "This rarely happens, so we have no guidelines," he told the Los Angeles Times. "We can't have a policy that people will not meet and talk with each other when they are not in an Explorer activity. We can't stop people from being people."

  

IN 2003, SAMUEL WALKER, a professor at the University of Nebraska and a leading scholar on police misconduct, was researching a follow-up to a report he'd published a year earlier. In "Driving While Female," Walker had shed light on the phenomenon of police officers sexually harassing and assaulting women they'd pulled over for traffic infractions. Walker reported discovering an average of nearly 20 cases per year of police officers doing everything from forcing women to walk home in their underwear to raping them in their cars after pulling them over. His findings, he said, were "clearly the tip of the iceberg."

As Walker scoured the internet to prepare an update, he stumbled upon a different trend: police officers sexually assaulting Explorers. "Just by changing around the search terms, we were able to find a large number of these cases," he says.

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6 comments
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mma fight
mma fight

Sports betting had been an age-old tradition found in every society. If you glance back into the history you will find that gamblers use to bet their money on just about anything unpredictable like games, animal racing or combats. The trend continues even today and betting is an interesting indulgence for sports fans and bookies all over the world. Sports betting in case popular games like soccer or baseball is carried out only during their seasons.

An Eagle Scout
An Eagle Scout

As someone with a strong background in the Scouting program, I know child abuse is a extremely serious matter in the organization. Boy Scouts, and I am assuming Explorer posts subsequently, are required to adhere to the "Two Deep" leadership policy. Essentially, it is means of ensuring there is NEVER one on one contact between an adult leader and a youth participant. If this officer was having this girl participate in ride-alongs without a secondary supervisor, it is violation of basic Scouting regulations.

Also... cops should know not to bang kids. Have fun in prison.

jo1glex
jo1glex

Police work attracts a certain personality type. Especially as the police are militarized, the personality type becomes more extreme. As more and more police departments hire combat veterans with no training whatsoever, the characteristics of predatory violence with a sexual component become more and more engrained in the police.

It isn't that there's a "lack of accountability." It's encouraged behavior. As soldiers, with the presumption of civilian life and responsibility, morph into warriors, tasked only to kill and despoil; so the paramilitary police are responsible only to utilize violence on command. Any "excesses" are excused, due to "the pressures of the job." Predatory sexual violence against women and children is all in a day's work.

You can't find troopers who will assault civilians on command without question, who don't also assault the vulnerable at other times in other ways, as well. It's all part of the bargain the Powers That Be have made.

Bottom line; keep your kids away from the cops. Keep your wife away from the cops. Solve your own problems as much as you can, by yourself, among your neighbors. That's the best way to deal with street gangs, the mob, or if your town were occupied by a foreign army. Increasingly, there's no difference.

guest1207
guest1207

Seriously it is encouraged??!! First of all Im speaking on behalf of personal knowledge in at least one of these stories that was listed and let me tell you and it even stated that some of these so called "victims" were over the age of 18! Now I dont disagree the officers actions were still highly inappropriate in many ways and there definitely should be accountability and consequences for them but dont think for one minute that all these girls were innocent curious little officers in training only interested in "Police work". That was not the case in all these cases. One girl in particular only joined to get close to the officers! Just like girls who like military uniformed men, this young lady had a hard on for police officers in uniform and she was over 18 btw! So also with her she also knew who was married and didnt care! It didnt stop her from pressuring to ride along with them and try to use her sexuality to seduce them which she did! She found officers that were vulnerable and ended in victim to her pursuits. The timeline was months, she carefully prepared and patiently waited and slept with whomever would fall for it! It didnt matter who! She is an attention whore! So next time dont quickly assume just the way the news article is trying to make it sound.. But again like I said I can only speak of my intel knowledge of one case, the others who knew! But I guarantee the one case, the girl wasnt some innocent girl pressured to have sex with this big ol' bad cop only trying to victimize young innocent girls! Not in this case! I am not dismissing the officers actions though, they were wrong and yes there should be accountability and consequences and there was and still is everytime the news has to print something about it!

retiredBSA
retiredBSA

The local department, as with any Scouting unit, selects and approves the leadership. Total local control. If you can't trust your police department to select leaders with high morals, who can you trust? Penn State is criticized for not reporting sexual abuse incidents to the police. In this case, not only were they reported to the police, the criminal was a police officer. If local leadership fails, how is Learning for Life responsible, as they have no authority over the individuals. Only the police department has authority to act.

 
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