Boy Scouts to report pedophiles named in its ‘perversion files’ to authorities

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Boy Scouts of America plan to begin doing what critics argue they should have done decades ago - bring suspected abusers named in the organization's so-called perversion files to the attention of police departments and sheriff's offices across the country. The Scouts have, until now, argued they did all they could to prevent sex abuse within their ranks by spending a century tracking pedophiles and using those records to keep known sex offenders out of their organization. But a court-ordered release of the perversion files from 1965 to 1985, expected sometime in October, has prompted Scouts spokesman Deron Smith to say the organization will go back into the files and report any offenders who may have fallen through the cracks. Smith said Mike Johnson, the group's youth protection director and a former police detective, will lead the review. That could prompt a new round of criminal prosecutions for offenders who have so far escaped justice, said Clatsop County, Ore., District Attorney Josh Marquis. But investigations may require more than what most Scout files provide, including victims willing to cooperate. "Let's even assume the suspect confessed," he said. "An uncorroborated confession is not sufficient for a conviction." Many states have no statutes of limitations for children victimized when they were younger than 16, so even decades-old crimes could be fair game. The Scouts began keeping the files shortly after their creation in 1910, when pedophilia was largely a crime dealt with privately -not publicly. The organization argues that the files helped them track offenders and protect children. But some of the files released in 1991, detailing cases from 1971 to 1991, showed repeated instances of Scouts leaders failing to disclose sex abuse to authorities, even when they had a confession. A lawsuit culminated in April 2010 with the jury ruling the BSA had failed to protect the plaintiff from a pedophile assistant Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America surveying 1.1 million adult members on whether to keep gay ban

PORTLAND, Ore. — Faced with a backlash against their ban on gays, the Boy Scouts of America are surveying their members on a potential change in policy. A questionnaire distributed to 1.1 million adult Scouts uses fictional situations to discern where Scouting’s membership falls on questions of homosexuality, gays camping with children and gays in church leadership. It allows adult Scouts to indicate a range of feelings, from strong support to strong opposition to the ban on gays. Some questions are direct queries of the respondent’s feelings on homosexuality and children. “Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop,” the survey begins its third question. “Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?” But the majority of the 13-question survey is more nuanced, including two open-ended questions about the impact of either banning or allowing gay members. Many of the questions indicate scenarios that would likely arise should the ban on gays be lifted. For instance, should the lesbian mother of a Tiger Cub be allowed to serve as den leader if the pack is chartered to a church that teaches that homosexuality is not wrong? Should a gay youth minister be allowed to serve as a Scoutmaster? Should a boy with the qualifications for Eagle Scout be denied the award if he reveals he’s gay at his board review? After the theoretical situations are posed, the survey then again asks respondents about their feelings on gays in Scouting. The Scouts provided the survey by email Tuesday morning to The Associated Press. Long the province of a strict anti-gay policy that went so far as to put members found to be gay in the organization’s secret “perversion” files, Scouting has now generally evolved into a sort of “don’t-ask, Continue Reading

Boy Scouts’ ‘perversion files’ didn’t stop some sex offenders from preying on kids again

The Boy Scouts of America’s “perversion files” are stored in locked cabinets at the organization’s headquarters in Texas, accessible to only a few people. The documents detail allegations of sexual abuse against expelled Scout leaders, ostensibly to prevent them from participating in Scouting again. "It is a fact that Scouts are safer because the barrier created by these files is real," Boy Scouts Chief Executive Robert Mazzuca said in June. But a review of the files by the Los Angeles Times found that more than 125 men on the blacklist were able to access – and allegedly continue to prey on – Boy Scouts. Some falsified their identities, while others took advantage of shoddy bookkeeping to turn up at other Boy Scout troops. One Minnesota man spent time behind bars for abusing a boy and returned to lead his troop again as soon as he was released in 1991, the Times found. An Indiana scoutmaster who was convicted in 1970 of abusing a 14-year-old boy went on to lead two troops in Illinois from 1971 to 1988. He eventually confessed to assaulting more than 100 other boys and was sentenced to 100 years in prison. The “ineligible volunteers” files have existed since 1919. They were computerized in 1975. Until 1988, Scout leaders accused of child abuse only faced probation, not immediate expulsion. A criminal background check requirement was added in 2008, and in 2010 the Boy Scouts officially required suspected abuse be reported to police. In response to the Los Angeles Times,’ review, the organization said in a statement, "The Boy Scouts of America believes even a single instance of abuse is unacceptable, and we regret there have been times when the BSA's best efforts to protect children were insufficient. For that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

76-year-old man stranded in wilderness survives 10 days on only snow and Boy Scout training

LAS VEGAS — A 76-year-old diabetic Colorado man survived 10 days in the remote Nevada desert by melting snow and using skills he learned as a Boy Scout, but a friend who was with him and ventured away to get help died. James Klemovich and Laszlo Szabo, 75, went to scope out some mines in the state when their car became stuck on a lonely road with no cell phone service, Klemovich's wife, Joanne, said Thursday. The men tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the car, and lit flares and started fires in hopes somebody would see them in northwestern Nevada's Pershing County, an area where less than 7,000 people are spread over 6,000 square miles. They used a towel in the car to strain ditch water and snow into water bottles, but, after four or five days, Szabo left to get help. Joanne Klemovich began to worry when several days passed without a phone call from her husband. "I figured maybe they'd had an accident and they were stranded," she said. "I thought maybe they were in a mine shaft. All kinds of things were going through my head." Joanne Klemovich said she was expecting the worst when authorities called Tuesday night to say her husband had been found by military personnel who were holding training exercises in the area. "I thought it was bad news, but it was very good news," she said by telephone from the couple's home in Littleton, Colo. "I didn't know what to even do or say." James Klemovich has diabetes, wears a pacemaker and had a triple bypass heart surgery, his wife said. He told her he wasn't panicking while he sat for days waiting for Szabo's return, she said. He kept a journal, noting how much water he drank and what he did each day. And he wrote a letter each day for her. Drinking regularly was likely the biggest factor in his survival despite the diabetes that could have sent his blood sugar dangerously out of whack, according to Rita Kalyani, who teaches endocrinology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Continue Reading

President Obama joins Mitt Romney in opposing Boy Scouts ban on gay members

President Obama has joined his rival Mitt Romney in opposing the Boy Scouts’ policy of banning gay members, a White House spokesman told the Washington Blade. “The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye told the paper in a statement on Wednesday. “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.” The White House statement came after Romney’s campaign told The Associated Press that the Republican supports opening the organization to all. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the AP that Romney’s position has not changed since 1994, when he said, “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.” The Boy Scouts of America affirmed its controversial ban on openly gay scouts and leaders last month after a formal review of the policy. That affirmation increased pressure on both Romney and Obama to take a position on the issue. But Inouye told the Blade in a follow-up email that Obama won’t resign his position as honorary president of the Boy Scouts in protest. Since the Boy Scouts was founded in 1910, every U.S. president has served as honorary president during his term. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Boy Scouts training helped College Point boy save his father’s life

Daniel Foulds had been preparing for the morning of Nov. 10, 2007, since he was 5 years old. That's when Danny, who will turn 18 in September, joined the Boy Scouts of America. He managed to stick with the group even through his junior and high school years, when scouting wasn't considered a cool thing. And because he stayed with it, and followed the Scouts' legendary motto, "Be Prepared," Danny, an Eagle Scout, was one of only 124 Scouts nationally to receive the cherished Medal of Merit award, bestowed by the Scouts' National Council of Honor last year. Only 5,562 such medals were awarded between 1946 and 2006. Danny also received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens), a City Council citation from Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), and several other awards. More importantly, Danny got to save his dad's life. Things might have have turned out differently if Danny hadn't gone on the hunting trip, as he originally planned, or didn't have the lifesaving knowledge the scouts gave him. "Most of the skills I used I learned in the Scouts," Danny said of his heroics. "A lot of it I did by instinct, but I fell back on my training." Danny has lived in College Point, Queens, all his life. He went to PS 129, IS 194 in Whitestone, and just graduated from St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows. This fall, he'll head to Queensborough Community College for at least year before transferring to John Jay College, where he plans to major in criminal justice, a step toward a possible career as a police officer. Danny also will take emergency medical technician training classes this fall so he can become a licensed emergency medical technician. "I've been like that since I was a kid," Danny said. "I always want to help people." Danny got involved with College Point Troop 18 ("Pride of the Point") at his mother's urging. He moved steadily through the ranks over the years, becoming an Eagle Scout this year. Continue Reading

Dog finds missing Boy Scout

A rescue dog named Gandalf yesterday found a 12-year-old Boy Scout missing for four days in the North Carolina mountains. The K-9 wizard led his trackers to Michael Auberry, who was found wandering about a mile from the camp where he went missing over the weekend. "We have our missing Boy Scout," said a jubilant National Park Service spokeswoman Tina White. Rescuer Misha Marshall said Michael, who had lost his glasses during his ordeal, looked a bit startled at first. But he was unharmed and seemed in fairly good health. "He was glad, real glad, when he realized we were there for him," Marshall said. "He was safe, and that's all we cared about." Michael asked for water and peanut butter crackers. "I'm hungry," he told Marshall. "Give me some water." Minutes later, the boy was brought out of the rugged mountains for a tearful reunion with his parents. Michael disappeared after apparently wandering away Saturday from his camp on a scouting trip. Michael's family said they were confident he would be found, especially because he underwent outdoors training and loved a story about a boy who survives in the wilderness after his plane crashes. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Missing Boy Scout found alive

"We have our missing Boy Scout," said a jubilant National Park Service spokeswoman Tina White. White said she didn't have exact details about where or how Michael was found, but officialsfirst received word shortly before 11 a.m. that he was spotted within a mile and a half of the campsite. "Search and rescuers who located him have their hands on him. He is in the care of search andrescue workers," White said. "Probably the most important thing we heard on the radio is A-1, whichmeans he is in good condition." Michael's parents and rangers were on their way to meet the group, she said. The officials wereconfident that the child they had found was Michael and that he was OK. The radio communication set off a celebration among leaders of several Scout troops waiting fornews about the boy. "A lot of tears, a lot of hugs," White said, and members of Michael's churchjoined hands to pray at the staging area. "This shows that when everybody works together, good things happen," said associate ministerSusan Norman Vickers of Christ United Methodist Church. "We just believed that he was going to befound." Earlier, the boy's father talked about his confidence in the rescue teams searching for his sonin the damp, cool wilderness. "What we got here is our son, who's lost, lost somewhere out there, and we don't know where heis," Kent Auberry said. "We've got great professionals looking for him. We're just waiting for thenews." Dog teams, about 70 people and a plane with heat-sensing equipment had been searching the ruggedarea around the camp site. Overnight temperatures were in the upper 30s to low 40s on Tuesday,milder than on Sunday night, when temperatures dropped into the 20s. Michael vanished after lunch with his fellow Scouts and troop leaders on Saturday. His fathersaid the adults and the other boys on the trip told him Michael had slept late but nothing appearedto have been wrong. "He was in good spirits," Auberry said. Continue Reading

Scouting values: Leaders call on Boy Scouts of America to end ban on openly gay adults

Were all the merit badges for naught? For Brian Peffly, a life teaching eager Boy Scouts to tie knots, start fires and build their character ended with a phone call. The vague communique told him that the Boy Scouts of America didn’t want a gay man in their midst. “I didn’t learn that discrimination was a scouting value when I was growing up,” said Peffly, 35, who has been both scout and scout leader for the better part of 20 years. “Being told I can’t be a part of my family is very devastating,” Peffly said of Troop 192, the Westerville, Ohio, group with which he has been active for much of his life. Two years after the storied organization amended its standards to prevent the expulsion of any youth member on the basis of his sexual orientation, openly gay adult members and volunteers are still in a bind. The organization made an explicit distinction between youth and adults, and leaders from the Boy Scouts of America have said there were no plans to subject the membership standards to further review. That doesn’t stop Peffly and others from praying that the topic comes up for discussion this week when more than 1,000 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America National Council converge on Atlanta for their annual meeting. “We’re really hoping that’s the case — we’re thinking and hoping and crossing our fingers that’s what they’re doing with their silence,” said attorney Josh Schiller, whose openly gay client Pascal Tessier, 18, has been hired by the Boy Scouts’ Greater New York Councils to be a camp counselor this summer. The Boy Scouts provide only a broad outline of their agenda for the private council meeting, which begins on Wednesday, and none of the proceedings will be public, but recent scrutiny of the organization’s practices has renewed activists’ expectations that the topic will be broached. I didn't Continue Reading

Boy Scout swept away by flash flood and killed at Boy Scouts of America’s New Mexico ranch

A flash flood whipped up by a nightime storm early Saturday swept a Boy Scout to his death during a 12-day camping trip at a remote northeast New Mexico ranch. The surging waters rushed through one of the scout campsites around 4:30 a.m. Saturday as the storm struck, whisking away four young scouts through the North Ponil Canyon. Three of the boys, whose ages range from 14 to 17, survived when rescuers pulled them from the raging waters, but one teen never resurfaced during the initial search. The boy's body was eventually found a mile from the campsite, New Mexico State Police said.  He has not been identified by pending the family’s notification. “This is a very difficult time for our entire Scouting family,” a Philmont Scout Ranch spokesman said in a statement to its website. “Our staff was unable to account for one youth participant, who we have since confirmed passed away. The scouts were in the first 15 miles of their trek through the ranch that covers about 214-square miles of rugged terrain owned by the Boy Scouts of America.  It’s unknown which path the scouts had taken, but multiple trails do pass through the canyon, ranch controller Steve Nelson said. Nelson does not recall any flash floods in that area of the canyon during his eight-year tenure at the ranch. The ranch has had at least one fatality in recent history when an adult died of a medical condition while on the trail. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading