Boy Scout files reveal local abuse

From staff and wire reports

Twenty-seven Dayton area Boy Scout leaders were accused in cases of child molestation dating back 44 years, according to confidential documents released Thursday by the Scouting organization.

The local cases are among a trove of some 14,500 pages from the Boy Scouts’ so-called “perversion files” that were made public by order of the Oregon Supreme Court.

The files reveal that some alleged pedophiles across the country and locally continued in scouting even after allegations were leveled against them. In several cases, community leaders such as judges and pastors helped keep the name of scouting out of the courts or the media, according to an Associated Press review of the files.

At the time, those authorities justified their actions as necessary to protect the good name and good works of Scouting, a pillar of 20th century America.

Accusations were made against Scout leaders in at least 16 communities in the Miami Valley, according to a database published by the L.A. Times. In Dayton, four cases of allegations were found.

Doug Nelson, who became Scout Executive of the Miami Valley Council 18 months ago, said he’s unaware of any incidents in recent times locally. The Miami Valley Council has 6,000 scouts enrolled.

“Any incident of molestation of a child in or out of the Scouts is unacceptable,” he said. “The Boy Scouts of America do a lot to protect the kids and have them recognize, resist and report violations of personal space.”

Scout policies require separate youth and adult sleeping accommodations, mandatory reporting, background checks and that two adults be present with a youth at all times, Nelson added.

In one case found in the files, in September 1983, a scout master with Troop 45 at Hope Lutheran Church in Springfield alerted the Tecumseh Council Scout Executive of a molestation allegation against assistant scout master Ronald R. Wray.

When confronted by the pastor and the Scout Executive, Wray denied the allegation but agreed to resign and undergo “periodic counseling sessions” with the pastor.

“The pastor, the boy’s parents, and scout master were satisfied with this arrangement,” according to a letter to the scout area director from the Scout Executive.

But on June 5, 1984, the letter continued, the Springfield Police notified the Scout Executive that Wray was being investigated on numerous counts of gross sexual imposition and rape. He also had a prior conviction and five years of incarceration in Arizona, the letter said.

On July 12, 1984, Wray was convicted of 3 counts of rape and 7 counts of gross sexual imposition, the Scout Executive wrote. “Please advise me of what further action I need to take to place this man in the confidential file to prevent him from again registering as a Boy Scout leader,” the Scout executive wrote in the Oct. 18, 1984 letter posted online.

An internal Scout record indicates Wray was previously convicted of two counts of child molesting in Arizona in 1974. Wray was entered “permanently” into the Scouts’ Confidential File. A 1985 Scout memo indicated he had been sentenced to serve 10-15 years on his conviction.

The files released Thursday are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after their founding in 1910. The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases.

The allegations stretch across the country and to military bases overseas, from a small town in the Adirondacks to downtown Los Angeles.

At a news conference Thursday, Portland attorney Kelly Clark blasted the Boy Scouts for their continuing legal battles to try to keep the files secret.

“You do not keep secrets hidden about dangers to children,” said Clark, who in 2010 won a landmark lawsuit against the Boy Scouts on behalf of a plaintiff who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.

The Associated Press obtained copies of the files weeks ahead of Thursday’s release and conducted an extensive review of them, but agreed not to publish the stories until the files were released.

The files were shown to a jury in a 2010 Oregon civil suit that the Scouts lost, and the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the files should be made public. After months of objections and redactions, the Scouts and Clark released them.

In many instances — more than a third, according to the Scouts’ own count — police weren’t told about the reports of abuse. And even when they were, sometimes local law enforcement still did nothing, seeking to protect the name of Scouting over their victims.

Victims like three brothers, growing up in northeast Louisiana.

On the afternoon of Aug. 10, 1965, their distraught mother walked into the third floor of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office. A 31-year-old scoutmaster, she told the chief criminal deputy, had raped one of her sons and molested two others.

Six days later, the scoutmaster, an unemployed airplane mechanic, sat down in front of a microphone in the same station, said he understood his rights and confessed: He had sexually abused the woman’s sons more than once.

“I don’t know how to tell it,” the man told a sheriff’s deputy. “They just occurred — I don’t know an explanation, why we done it or I done it or wanted to do it or anything else it just — an impulse I guess or something.

“As far as an explanation I just couldn’t dig one up.”

He wouldn’t have to. Seven days later, the decision was made not to pursue charges against the scoutmaster.

The last sliver of hope for justice for the abuse of two teenagers and an 11-year-old boy slipped away in a confidential letter from a Louisiana Scouts executive to the organization’s national personnel division in New Jersey.

“This subject and Scouts were not prosecuted,” the executive wrote, “to save the name of Scouting.”

An Associated Press review of the files found that the story of these brothers and their scoutmaster, however horrendous, was not unique.

The documents reveal that on many occasions the files succeeded in keeping pedophiles out of Scouting leadership positions — the reason why they were collected in the first place. But the files are also littered with horrific accounts of alleged pedophiles who were able to continue in Scouting because of pressure from community leaders and local Scouts officials.

The files also document other troubling patterns. There is little mention in the files of concern for the welfare of Scouts who were abused by their leaders, or what was done for the victims. But there are numerous documents showing compassion for alleged abusers, who were often times sent to psychiatrists or pastors to get help.

In 1972, a local Scouting executive beseeched national headquarters to drop the case against a suspected abuser because he was undergoing professional treatment and was personally taking steps to solve his problem. “If it don’t stink, don’t stir it,” the local executive wrote.

Scouting’s efforts to keep abusers out were often disorganized. There’s at least one memo from a local Scouting executive pleading for better guidance on how to handle abuse allegations. Sometimes the pleading went the other way, with national headquarters begging local leaders for information on suspected abusers, and the locals dragging their feet.

In numerous instances, alleged abusers are kicked out of Scouting but show up in jobs where they are once again in authority positions dealing with youths.

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