Salvation Army Officer Accused of Molesting 4 Girls in Burbank

Times Staff Writer

The captain of the Salvation Army in Burbank was arrested Friday on charges that he molested four young girls at the corps' offices over the last year, authorities said.

Gilbert Crowell, 27, was arrested at his Tujunga home shortly after noon on a warrant charging him with six misdemeanor counts of child molestation, six counts of lewd conduct and four counts of battery, Burbank Police Sgt. Don Goldberg said.

Crowell was released after posting $1,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Burbank Municipal Court on May 12.

Four girls, ranging in age from 11 to 16, said that Crowell exposed himself and fondled them in his office or in a conference room at the Salvation Army office at 300 East Angeleno Ave., Goldberg said. The girls live in Burbank, Glendale and Sun Valley.

The molestations occurred over a 12-month period, Goldberg said, generally on Sundays and always during events for young people at the Salvation Army office, directly behind the Burbank Police Department.

Goldberg said two of the girls and their parents complained to police about a week ago. An investigation led detectives to two other girls, he said.

Crowell could not be reached for comment.

Col. David Riley, provisional commander of the corps' Southern California region, said he has reluctantly relieved Crowell of his duties until the matter is resolved.

"We don't think that any of it is true," he said.

Riley said Crowell alerted his superiors after the mother of one of the girls approached him about her daughter's allegations on April 10. The Salvation Army investigated and found that the charges were not substantiated, he said. Crowell took three polygraph tests and passed them all, Riley said.

Riley called Crowell a talented and dedicated young man who had distinguished himself at Salvation Army offices in Oceanside and San Pedro before taking command of the Burbank corps two years ago.

"His record's impeccable," Riley said.

Crowell, a native of Redwood City, joined the Salvation Army after graduating from high school seven years ago. He is married and has three children.

Regardless of the case's outcome, Crowell's career with the Burbank corps is finished, Riley said. If Crowell is found innocent, the Salvation Army will transfer him to another city to protect his reputation, he said.

Crowell will continue to receive his regular allowance from the Salvation Army while on suspension.

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