April 20, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Taps Texas Firm To Prevent Future Child Abuse

Praesidium Will Guide Santa Monica On Best Practices and Strict Policies Across City Programs

By Zach Armstrong

The city of Santa Monica is using the guidance and recommendation of an Arlington, TX-based firm to prevent future child abuse following a settlement to 124 people who allegedly suffered sexual abuse from a former city employee.

“The City of Santa Monica has demonstrated our vigilance in protecting youth by implementing best practices and strict policies across City programs, including creating a Child Protection Committee and establishing a Child Protection Officer to oversee implementation of child abuse prevention measures, as recommended by Praesidium, Inc.” Delana G. Gbenekama, acting public information officer of Santa Monica, said in an email.

Praesidium is an expert in abuse prevention that advises organizations on preventing sexual abuse of children. It serves as the Child Protection Officer and works in concert with the Child Protection Committee for Santa Monica. The CPC is a multi-department committee that includes representatives from city departments such as the city manager’s office, the city attorney’s office, the Santa Monica Public Library, and the community services, finance, human resources and police departments.

The City did not immediately respond to how much it would spend for Praesidium’s services or who the CPO is.

Santa Monica has already taken actions based on recommendations from the CPO and the CPC, such as hiring a new volunteer coordinator to monitor and oversee recruitment and training of volunteers across city programs, Gbenekama said.

The move comes after Santa Monica agreed to pay almost $230 million over the actions of Eric Uller, who volunteered with the Police Activities League. Uller allegedly abused young boys starting in the late 1980s. In 2018, he committed suicide before he stood trial.

“My heart goes out to the victims who have experienced so much pain and heartbreak,” Mayor Gleam Davis previously said in a news release. “The settlement is the City’s best effort to address the suffering of the victims in a responsible way, while also acknowledging that the harm done to the victims cannot be undone.”

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