In a move towards justice for the victims of Eric Uller’s crimes, Santa Monica has agreed to pay $122.5 million to settle sexual abuse claims from 124 individuals who were allegedly abused as children by the former city employee. The settlement was approved by the Santa Monica Council on Tuesday and brings the total amount paid by the city to nearly $230 million for claims related to Uller’s actions.
Uller, who worked as a systems analyst for the city, was accused of molesting boys as far back as the late 1980s. He volunteered with the city’s Police Activities League, using a badge and gun to gain the trust of children. Allegedly, he groomed young children through the PAL program, often offering them food, money, or gifts, and sometimes taking them to sporting events.
Attorney Brian Claypool, who represented many of the plaintiffs in the case, held a news conference in downtown Los Angeles to announce the settlement. He accused city officials of knowing about Uller’s behavior as early as the 1990s but failing to take action.
Following Uller’s arrest in 2018, the city implemented several measures to prevent such crimes from happening in the future. The city expanded its requirements for Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training for all employees, volunteers, and contractors, and established a Child Protection Officer position to oversee the implementation of child abuse prevention measures.
While the settlement may provide some relief to the victims, it cannot erase the trauma they experienced. It serves as a stark reminder of the importance of holding institutions accountable for their failure to protect vulnerable individuals from abuse and exploitation.