The window for sexual abuse victims of former Santa Monica City employee and volunteer Eric Uller to file a claim with the City is closing.
The window for sexual abuse victims of former Santa Monica City employee and volunteer Eric Uller to file a claim with the City will come to a close at the end of this year when the statute of limitations for the case is set to expire. The Dec. 31, 2022 deadline will mark the end of litigation in an abuse scandal that has affected scores of residents, particularly Latino boys from the Pico neighborhood.
Uller was accused of abusing young boys between the late 1980s and early 2000s while he was employed by the City and volunteered in the Police Activities League (PALs). He committed suicide just before his criminal trial in November 2018.
In the four years since the first allegations of sexual abuse were made against Uller in October 2018, close to 100 victims have come forward and the City has paid out a total of $107.3 million in settlements. Due to the ongoing litigation, the City declined to comment on the precise number of victims and their claims.
There have been multiple groups of claimants who have received settlement money including 24 individuals who received a total of $42.6 million in March 2020 and an additional 61 alleged victims who settled for $54.9 million in 2021. Former Santa Monica City Attorney George Cardona said at the time that he questioned the veracity of the allegations of some of the claimants in the second group, but the City ultimately chose to settle with all of them.
In addition to the settlement payments, the City has taken actions since the allegations came to light to prevent future such incidents including, creating a new code of conduct for providing youth services and expanding requirements for Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training for all employees, volunteers and contractors for any City-managed youth programs.
The City also hired abuse prevention organization Praesidium Inc. in 2018 to review youth programs and advise them on how to prevent any further child abuse. In March 2020, the City signed a $625,000 four-year contract with Praesidium to serve as a Child Protection Officer for City-run youth programs.
In the remaining few weeks before the period to file claims against Uller slams shut, the City Council is continuing to meet with legal counsel about the matter and will discuss pending litigation against the City and PALs at the upcoming Dec. 13 meeting.