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Suit Alleges Repeated Sex Abuse by Kalish

Plaintiff claims deputy chief molested him over five-year period in '70s, sometimes on duty.

April 08, 2003|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

Deputy Los Angeles Police Chief David Kalish sexually abused a teenage boy repeatedly over five years in the 1970s, sometimes in his patrol car while on duty, according to allegations in a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The 41-year-old plaintiff alleges that Kalish began "exploiting" him when he was 14 and a member of the Law Enforcement Explorer Scouting program at the Devonshire police station in the north San Fernando Valley.

He said he discovered last year that his "psychological and emotional injuries" were caused by childhood sexual abuse, allowing him under state law to sue for damages relating to the alleged molestation more than two decades ago.

Kalish, 49, was relieved of duty March 29 after a five-month criminal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct in the late 1970s, when he was a supervisor in the LAPD-sponsored Explorers program.

Police Chief William J. Bratton said the LAPD forwarded the case to prosecutors after police investigators said they found substantial evidence of abuse.

Six people claim they were victimized by Kalish, according to law enforcement sources.

The civil suit was the first filed against the city of Los Angeles and the Police Department alleging childhood sexual abuse, negligence, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress involving Kalish. The lawsuit also names Kalish, a 28-year LAPD veteran and former department spokesman.

"We believe there are other victims out there, and we hope that they too will have the courage and strength to come forward," said attorney Todd A. Walburg of Oakland.

In his lawsuit, Walburg's client accused Kalish of "sexually fondling him, molesting him and forcing, coercing and inducing him to engage in oral copulation and other similar acts" from 1974 through 1979.

He alleged that the illegal sexual conduct took place while Kalish "was in his police uniform, carrying a gun, in his police vehicle and on duty" as well as during Explorer activities.

The Times is withholding the man's name because he is alleged to be a victim of a sex crime.

The suit also claims that the city of Los Angeles and LAPD were negligent when they hired Kalish as a police officer and then failed to adequately supervise him.

The lawsuit alleges that the LAPD should have known about Kalish's "dangerous and exploitative propensities."

"We believe that the entities responsible for the Explorer program should have prevented the abuse," Walburg said.

LAPD officials declined to comment Monday. "We haven't seen it so we can't comment on something we haven't seen," Assistant Chief Sharon Papa said. "Once we receive a copy of it, we will review it and forward it to investigators."

A spokesman for Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said the office referred the matter to LAPD internal affairs.

Kalish's lawyer, Darryl Mounger, did not return calls about the suit Monday.

The suit seeks unspecified damages, including reimbursement for ongoing medical and psychological treatment and the loss of earnings and earning capacity.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff's memory of the alleged abuse was triggered by an unspecified event on April 8, 2002. Walburg declined to elaborate, but that was around the time that Kalish's name surfaced as a possible candidate to succeed Bernard C. Parks as police chief of Los Angeles.

Kalish was considered a leading internal contender for the top spot, and was one of the few deputy chiefs to stay in his post after Bratton took over as chief last fall. Openly gay, Kalish rose in a department that was often accused of being anti-gay.

The plaintiff filed a claim for unspecified damages with the city on Oct. 7. The City Council took no action, effectively denying the monetary claim.

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Times staff writers Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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