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, Fla., in which an officer accused of having sex with a 16-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 11 Largo cops had had sex with Explorers, dating back to the late 1980s.

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.

The following year, in Eureka, Mo., 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 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 16-year-old former Explorer from San Diego who'd been coerced into sex 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 Police Department was getting to know a shy, immature 19-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. Bethany, he added, "continued to refer to you by your title as an officer, not by your first name."

Forbes handed down a 10-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
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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