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Grand Jury Hears Testimony in Kalish Case

Prosecutors plan to call more witnesses and alleged victims in the molestation inquiry against the suspended LAPD deputy chief.

May 06, 2003|Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writers

The Los Angeles County Grand Jury has begun hearing closed-door testimony into allegations that suspended Deputy Los Angeles Police Chief David Kalish molested police Explorer Scouts during the 1970s, law enforcement sources said Monday.

Two people have testified so far, sources said. The district attorney's office plans to call several more witnesses and alleged victims this week. A decision in the case is not expected until the end of the month, sources said.

Among those expected to testify are three men who have alleged to Los Angeles Police Department investigators that they were molested by Kalish in the 1970s. At that time, Kalish was a supervisor of the LAPD-sponsored Explorers program at the San Fernando Valley's Devonshire station.

Three others who have claimed to have knowledge of allegations against the deputy chief are also expected to be called before jurors.

Prosecutors are seeking to determine the validity of the accusations uncovered during a five-month LAPD investigation of Kalish, and to find any other alleged victims.

Kalish, 49, did not return telephone calls Monday. He is the department's top-ranking gay officer and was a candidate for police chief last year.

The 28-year department veteran was suspended with pay on March 29 and assigned to home after results of the LAPD investigation were forwarded to prosecutors. LAPD Chief William J. Bratton said investigators with the special operations section of the Internal Affairs Division had found substantial evidence of abuse.

That investigation began with a civil claim filed in October by a Santa Clarita man against Kalish and the city. According to sources, investigators picked up the pace when another former police Explorer Scout, now living out of state, made similar allegations. Investigators then located a third alleged victim, sources said.

One victim filed a lawsuit April 7 against the city, the Police Department and Kalish, alleging childhood sexual abuse, negligence, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Kalish was accused of "sexually fondling him, molesting him and forcing, coercing" him from 1974 through 1979, according to the lawsuit.

Kalish allegedly began "exploiting" the plaintiff when he was 14, according to the suit by the man, now 41. The suit alleges the incidents 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.

Todd A. Walburg, an attorney for the plaintiff, said he could not comment about grand jury proceedings, or say whether his client had been subpoenaed. He said he expects his client will be called.

"Kalish's abuse of his official authority allowed him to victimize several minors and the results of that abuse have caused deep-seated and lifelong trauma," said Walburg, an Oakland attorney. "We believe that the witnesses will reveal a pattern of inappropriate behavior and a lack of supervision that allowed this abuse to occur."

Criminal charges based on conduct 20 years ago would normally be barred. But, during the mid-1990s, the state Legislature extended the statute of limitations in cases in which there were allegations of serious sexual misconduct, as well as corroborating evidence.

Kalish was the commanding officer of the West Bureau. Bratton last week appointed Lee Carter to replace him as acting deputy chief.

Two days after his suspension, Kalish joined an income deferment program that effectively boosted his overall retirement earnings by more than 60%. The city program is designed to retain experienced police and fire officials who are otherwise eligible for retirement. The program was supposed to keep veteran officers from leaving the force.

Among the youngest commanders to hold the rank of deputy chief, Kalish is a familiar face from his years as a department spokesman.

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