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City sued for hiring sex abuse suspect

December 27, 2002

Deepa Bharath

Parents of three young boys allegedly molested by a former Newport

Beach recreation coordinator have sued the city for negligence and

negligent hiring, court documents show.

The plaintiffs, whose names the Pilot is withholding to protect

the children's identities, filed a lawsuit Dec. 11 in Orange County

Superior Court against former city employee Trenton Veches and the

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city.

In the suit, they say city officials failed to notice Veches'

alleged crimes, which police say had been happening for at least two

years before April 2002.

City Atty. Bob Burnham said Thursday the city has not yet been

served with the lawsuit.

Veches, 32, of Huntington Beach, who was arrested in April, is

awaiting a criminal trial on 28 felony counts of lewd contact with

minors and one misdemeanor count of possessing child pornography. He

pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The parents in their complaint said Veches enticed their children

with candy and money and then touched them inappropriately. Police

have said Veches had a foot fetish and sucked several children's

toes.

All of his alleged victims were young boys who attended several of

the city's after-school, day-care and recreational programs that he

supervised at Mariners Park, West Newport Community Center on 15th

Street and the Community Youth Center on 5th Street in Corona del

Mar.

Newport Beach Police investigators say they found a stack of 36

photos in Veches' home that showed him sucking the toes of several

young boys who attended the city's programs. They also say they found

more than 3,500 images of child pornography on CD ROMs and Zip disks

in a cardboard box under his bed.

Detectives who testified at a preliminary hearing in September

said one of the boys they questioned told them Veches would take

pictures of his feet and of him lying on the pool table making funny

faces.

Another boy -- son of one of the plaintiffs -- told investigators

that Veches would ask him if he could suck on his toes and would go

ahead and do it even if the boy said "no."

Detectives said they also found among Veches' possessions several

photos of children sucking their own toes, playing barefoot or

shirtless.

In their suit, the plaintiffs allege that the city "breached its

duties by failing to use care in hiring, retaining and supervising

Veches." The complaint further states that Veches' e-mail address

before being hired four years ago by the city was wildyouth@aol.com.

The lawsuit does not state a specific amount, but seeks general

damages, reimbursement for medical and psychological services and

legal expenses. The plaintiffs had submitted claims to the city

amounting to about $4.5 million, but the city rejected those claims.

City officials have continually said that they have done their

part to hire good employees.

"We fingerprint our candidates and do background checks," City

Manager Homer Bludau said in September as he was preparing to hire

Veches' replacement. "But no method is 100% foolproof."

Veches quit his job after the allegations. He is being held in

Orange County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bail. A pretrial hearing is

set for Jan. 6 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

* DEEPA BHARATH covers public safety and courts. She may be

reached at (949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at deepa.bharath@latimes.com.

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