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Three Southern California girls molested by a police officer while in a police explorer program have settled their civil suit against the Irwindale Police Department and Learning for Life, the company that runs the program, for a record $4 million. The settlement comes on the heels of another settlement against the same defendants last year for $2.75 million. All four victims were sexually assaulted by the same former police officer, Daniel Camerano, either in police cars during ride alongs or in police stations.
Assaulting Officer and Complicit Police Department
According to plaintiffs' claims, Officer Camerano was using his position of power and authority to victimize young woman who had a strong respect for police. In fact, these victims had joined the explorer program in hopes of one day becoming police officers. Not only was the officer's position abused, but other officers allegedly knew of the crime, and were complicit. This combination allowed the assaults to continue, with repeat assaults on each victim. These cases are indicative of systematic problems other departments are experiencing throughout California.
Officer Sexual Assault on Teenage Explorer Girls -- a Repeated Offense
In September 2018, a Northern California police sergeant was arrested for allegedly molesting a teenage girl in the Porterville Police Department explorer program of the Porterville Police Department. In August 2018, a Los Angeles police officer, Robert Cain was sentenced to two years in prison for sexually assaulting a teenage girl in their version of an explorer program. Given the length of the charges against Cain, he faced up to eight years in prison. The victim and her family were very "unhappy" about the light sentence ultimately handed out.
According to attorney Andrea Ritchie, sexual assaults by police officers against teen girls are not as uncommon as one might think. "Sexual assault by police officers against women is extremely prevalent," Ritchie states. "It's been reported that it's the second most frequently reported form of police misconduct, after excessive force." Ritchie claims one study found that a police officer is caught in an act of sexual misconduct every five days, and that almost a quarter of these involve minor victims. Ritchie believes the numbers are probably far worse, since these numbers only reflect the officers actually caught.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact a personal injury attorney. A seasoned legal veteran will be able to listen to the facts or your case, and help decide best next steps for you, including possible outcomes and processes. Though a lawyer can't help erase the past, there may be some help for the future.