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Interview with "Jane," Stan Matthews, Paul Ralph

Aired June 25, 2003 - 19:29   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There is a nationwide program for teenagers interested in police career, you probably heard about it explorers, that allows them to go on patrol with officers. Now, there are charges that some of the teens were victimized in this program by the officers they trusted and admired. A new report says over the past 12 years there have been, get this, 183 reports of sexual abuse by police, 66 of them involved teenagers, and 31 of those teens were participating in ride along programs administered by the explorers, which is a branch of the Boy Scouts, a statistic of author of this report says is disturbing.

PROF. SAM WALKER, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA: There appears to be a real pattern of recurring abuse across the country. And what I think it indicates is a failure of police departments in particular to supervise these programs and to supervise the officers in charge of them, and to really investigate allegations of misconduct.


COOPER: The Boy Scouts say they are also concerned by these allegations, and will work to prevent child abuse. A number of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of teenagers allegedly abused during police ride-a-longs, one teens, we are going to call her "Jane" joins us from San Diego. Right now she wants to remain anonymous. So she is in shadow on the left hand side of your screen.

Also joining us from are her lawyers, Stanton Matthews and Paul Ralph. Appreciate all of you joining. "Jane," thank you for being with us.

When you heard about this study, how but feel?

That you were not the only one this happened to.

"JANE": I felt terrible, knowing that other people are going through this. And when it happens, you feel really like you're the only one. To know there's so many other people out there, it's terrible.

COOPER: You were 16 years old, you wanted to be a police officer, you joined this program, and you started going to ride-a- longs with this one particular officer. What happened -- how...

"JANE": There was a lot of unsupervised time. What are you...

COOPER: I mean, you ended up in a relationship of sorts with him.

How did that occurred?

It wasn't -- he didn't attack you one night. This happened over the course of time, did it not?

"JANE": Right. Right. Well, I was in the explorers for about a year, and you would go on ride-a-longs maybe once a month. And I would go with this particular officer every time. And there was a lot of, sitting in the car and waiting, and a lot of talking, and that's pretty much how it became.

COOPER: Did you tell your parents about it?

Did other people know about it?

"JANE": Nobody knew there was another explorer who -- who I would consult with. But no adults knew.

"JANE": This officer has pled guilty to felony charges, unlawful sex, as well as oral copulation with a minor. Now, he served jail time, I think less than half his year's sentence. He can't work as a police officer again. But you're suing the city of Marietta for compensation.

What do you want?

Why are you doing that?

"JANE": I don't want to hear this ever happening again. It's -- this wouldn't have happened if they would have done their job, and I don't want to hear of it ever happening again to anyone else.

COOPER: Paul Raffle, and Stanton Matthews, you're her attorneys, Mr. Matthews, you're basically in a suit alleging the city of Marietta was negligent. The suit was thrown out once, you on appeal. I just want to tell you we contacted the city's attorney and he told us, I am going to put this on the screen.

Quote, "We were not in violation of the Boy Scouts program at all. The regional representative gave a declaration saying that we weren't in violation. "

Your response, were they?

STANTON MATTHEWS, ATTORNEY: That's a misrepresentation of actually what the representative said. Specifically what the representative said was that he had given them a copy of the rules and guidelines that the Boy Scouts very meticulously and carefully have drafted. And that he had also reviewed rules that had come back to him that the police department gave back to him with regard to the conduct. He never said anything to the effect that he had reviewed the conduct or made any opinions or conclusions. OK, now, Paul, I want to bring you in here.

An attorney for the police also told us, I am going to put this on the screen and read it carefully, quote, "I would deny that there were repeated activities or signals or red flags going on." We are talking about the particular case of "Jane," who we just spoke to. "The girls testified that they didn't want anyone to know. They went out of their way to make sure that no one new what was going on. The girls mothers didn't even know what was going on. If the mothers didn't know how would the police department know?"

How do you respond to that?

Why are you saying the police department, the city is responsible?

PAUL RALPH, ATTORNEY: The conduct occurred in and around a police car, in and around a police station while the girls were on duty as explorers. The parents couldn't know what was going on. To the station by "Jane." She appeared to be infatuated according to some police department employees with this male officer. Only the department's supervision could have known this was occurring. The parents are not to blame here.

COOPER: "Jane," do you still want to be a police officer?

I mean, you entered this program, you were 16 years old, you dreamed of being a cop.

Do you still have that dream?

"JANE": No. My life has taken my toward a different direction. This is kind of -- this happening really turned me away from that.

COOPER: Do you think if this hadn't happened, you still would have wanted to be a police officer?

"JANE": I wouldn't know, to tell you the truth. Who knows what would have happened.

COOPER: Well, "Jane," Paul Ralph, Stan Matthews, appreciate you joining us. As I said the case is on appeal. We'll be following it closely. Thanks you very much for being with us.


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