Man accused of molesting child in 1966 said child upset about merit badge
A former West Ashley scouting leader said a 46-year-old dispute over a child’s merit badge led to his name being included in an internal list of suspected molesters compiled by Boy Scouts of America.
The case came to light this week after an Oregon court ordered the release of 14,500 pages worth of the Boy Scouts’ confidential “perversion files” from 1959 to 1985.
The documents outed more than 100 accused men whose reputations were previously guarded and their identities hidden in the organization’s internal records.
One of those men, now an 86-year-old Colleton County resident, said the 1966 accusation against him stemmed from a child’s misguided anger, which got blown out of proportion. The Post and Courier is not identifying the man because he has not been charged with a crime.
At the time, the man was 39 years old and chairman of Charleston’s Troop 66, sponsored by the West Ashley Optimist Club. That troop no longer exists.
The man said one of his then-12-year-old son’s friends called him and asked if he would sign off on a merit badge. The man said he told the boy he wouldn’t do so until the scout showed proof that he completed all of the badge’s requirements, which he had not done.
Accusations of abuse followed a short time later, the man said.
“Out of spite, I was accused,” the former scout leader said. “I’m not a child abuser. Never have been.” Scouting officials collected statements from two families at the time, but the man said he only remembered being accused by one child.
In one statement, a father described how his son had complained about the scout leader’s conduct on camping trips. The boy told his father the leader had fondled him and encouraged the boy to do the same, the statement read.
Another father said he was contacted by the first parent and soon learned his own son had a similar experience, according to the documents. The father stated he was told the leader also offered the scouts the following lesson:
“(A child) stated to them that on several occasions, (the man) had indicated by word and deed that sexual relations between man and boy, or any two people of the same sex was perfectly normal if both enjoyed the act and as long as it was held in strict privacy,” one document reads.
The files state that families’ concerns were reported to A.L. Rogers, Boy Scout executive with the Coastal Carolina Council, the day after they were collected. There is no indication police were notified, and the accused man said he cooperated with internal scouting investigators in an effort to avoid a criminal probe.
The internal Boy Scouts’ documents show organized attempts to keep these accusations from becoming public knowledge.
“To date nothing has been in the newspaper and we have done everything in our power to keep Scouting from being involved,” Rogers said in a letter to then-national registration director Howard Boyd in February of that year.
The man said he agreed to do a polygraph test to clear his name, and that investigators determined he was innocent.
“It was all a lie. Something in the past. There’s no proof,” the man said.
The man’s son, now 59, was actively involved in the troop and rose to the rank of Eagle Scout as a child. But he said he only learned of the accusations against his father for the first time Friday.
He said he remembers his father being very active in Scouting, driving children back and forth to camping trips and preparing food for the troop’s various activities.
“(My parents) didn’t tell me about it then. I guess they had their reasons,” the man’s son said. “It sure is easy to point a finger and to say somebody did something without any corroboration. It happens all the time. I’m not going to let it bother me now. I’m not going to lose any sleep one way or the other.”
The accusers names have been redacted from the official scouting documents, and they could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis said the department wouldn’t investigate the case unless someone filed a formal complaint.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said there is no statute of limitations on the case. Wilson said her office has prosecuted many “delayed reporting” cases stemming from older incidents of sexual assault. “Cases like that have their challenges but they can be good cases,” Wilson said.
The Troop 66 case is one of 40 from South Carolina. Another case happened in Charleston in 1988 involving Troop 4 from James Island, Legare Clement, scout executive for the Coastal Carolina Council, said this week.
Information became public about a man who was an assistant leader. The man had been accused of previously being inappropriate with youth in another organization. When the Boy Scouts learned about it, the man was asked to leave the organization, Clement said.
That case was not included in the internal documents released as a result of the Oregon court order.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.