Authorities Exploited This Youth Program To Sexually Abuse Children

shoulder patch of law enforcement person
Zain Murdock
June 11, 2024

The Law Enforcement Exploring program, affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, claimed to offer career opportunities for youth by working with officers. But, in the 70s, a participant complained about officers taking girls on overnight camping trips, describing them as “orgies.” Then-Chief Daryl Gates shrugged off the testimony. And instances of sexual abuse would continue across the country.

Since 1974, the program has garnered 194 allegations of police officers grooming, abusing, and engaging in other kinds of sexual misconduct with youth as young as 13. Simply because they were officers, children and parents trusted them. But that trust hadn’t been rightfully earned.

In 1998, one Florida officer left a suicide note reading: “I’m not the only person who’s having sex with a minor...They really need to tighten up the rules.” But officers weren’t partaking in sex, friendships, dating, or affairs at all. Most Explorers were children.

Despite their framing, officers were making child pornography, secretly photographing children in their underwear, and raping children on ride-alongs. Many who didn’t, looked the other way. All while shaking parents’ hands, flexing authority, and sharing advice on careers in public “safety.”

But when sexual abuse is so rampant in policing, cops can’t be the authority on safety. Individual officers are only as powerful as the system that grants them power. And for decades, children have paid the price.