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 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.

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."

San Bernadino deputy Nathan Gastineau allegedly had sex with an underage Explorer.
Courtesy of San Bernardino County Sheriff
San Bernadino deputy Nathan Gastineau allegedly had sex with an underage Explorer.
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.

Ultimately, it was found that at least six cops had had sex with at least 16 teenaged 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 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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16 comments
StopChildAbuse-ReadTaxReturns
StopChildAbuse-ReadTaxReturns

It is my firm philosophy that when one wants to stop molestation, abuse of minors, one should go for the money exchanging hands as the "smoking gun." Many times this involves nonprofits, or justice-diversionary programs.

Appreciate the posting of this article. I am wondering how many children would never have been molested if more just normal type, common people learned how to look up charitable returns of major nonprofits that deal with kids -- and call 'em on it when they fail to file.

It's like when something involves "children" or "family" (etc.) the public's mind goes brain-dead. No one likes to deal with corruption -- we prefer to hire others to. However, it's not going to be a free society if we don't understand BOTH patterns of excellence and how patterns of corruption actually happen.

Check it out:www learningforlife org/ about-us/youth-protection-training

I just saw the annual report. It looks just "too" bright, shiny, and carefully multicultural (in TEXAS?) -- and no mention of funding, only testimonials.

There's a "learning for life" foundation EIN# 26-2270708 and then the organization itself, EIN# 75-2396057, no return shows for year 2006. Looks like they are esp. marketing in part to the homeschool/charter school crowd, and have a "Fr." (priest) on a committee. Looking at the highest income year for first EIN#, we see two of the Board of Directors were Scouts, with long tenure, and salary of (Chief) close to $1 mil ($988K) and the other, just short of $500K. "Please donate" to their salaries.

I'm heading off to Texas URLs to see if they've been filing properly with the state. Will report back if I find anything. NB: California charities supposed to be helping kids are notorious (but not notorious enough yet in my opinion) for functioning as channeling money to/from the courts.

Major congratulations to Texas Ranger Hanna (hope the young woman recovered...) and Jonathan Kaminsky for this article. It was far better than the one on California Courts Giving Custody to Pedophiles, which didn't even identify the source of the problem very well.

Happy New Year. Good Job.

Signed, a Mom(I have adolescent (very young adult) daughters who've been in the care of religionists recently, thanks to non-prosecuting law enforcement several years ago + the local family court apparatus)

(note: URL I provided is not mine, it links to an article about a SF charity's fundriaiser)

Rebecca_ae
Rebecca_ae

it is sad but not surprising that men would abuse their power to dominant and take advantage of young women.

Federale
Federale

Riding along every night. Sounds like consent. If a 15 year old goes out to night clubs and dresses like an adult, and sleeps around, San Francisco considers that sexual liberation. But because a Texas cop was invovled it is now rape.

MorttenC
MorttenC

Right!Because getting into a car means an underage girl is agreeing to have sex with any man in that car, especially one she perceives as having power over her physically, and power over her future employment.

Not only did these cops repeatedly molest these underage kids, all the cops who knew about these repeated unlawful and morally reprehensible acts took NO action to stop them. That means there are many more police complicit in these crimes.

There should be enhanced penalties for any public servant who uses their power to commit crimes, especially sex crimes against youths from their own communities.These sexual predators should all be behind bars.

Whoapprovedthatgraphic
Whoapprovedthatgraphic

Looks like the cops are the problem, not the Boy Scouts. Looks like those in charge of the police are not following the very laws they are supposed to enforce. Although I appreciate this article (as it brings a great injustice to light) I feel the blame must remain on the molesters. The Boy Scouts are not hired public servants. The police are.

Citizenwatch
Citizenwatch

Thanks to SF Weekly, now people can see how hypocritical the bad cops are!

Citizenwatch
Citizenwatch

More evidences validate that cops are bad guys

Williesmith692
Williesmith692

These cops enjoy excellent pay & benefit with our hard earned tax money while they are doing the ugly things in the dark corner. SHAME on THEM!!

Adamwong
Adamwong

Then who to arrest these cops?

Gguest
Gguest

The comparison to the Catholic Church is very interesting because it shows that virtually any organization that allows adults to work with children are probably having these same crimes take place.

Gguest
Gguest

How is it that these cops are not charged with rape? Along with a dozen other crimes. It seems that punishment usually is a few days suspension without pay, and of course they have to keep their pensions...

Our society falls deeper into the abyss every day...

Dancy White
Dancy White

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Grownups
Grownups

You can chop you know what off, any adult that takes advantage of their power over a young person who is in their 'trust'. Any servie agency or program that supplies adults as teachers or mentors are ACCOUNTABLE for setting standards of behavior and then monitoring these relationships. "Adults who work with children have a duty of care. They must safeguard children from emotional, sexual and physical harm."

 
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