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Boy Scouts Ban Voice Teacher Accused of Abuse

Aftermath: The former merit badge counselor faces molestation charges. Officials of the O.C.-based chorus say the man cleared the background screening.

September 26, 2002|PHIL WILLON and CHRISTINE HANLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The singing instructor charged with molesting a former member of the Costa Mesa-based All-American Boys Chorus also has been barred from the Boy Scouts of America, where he volunteered as a merit badge counselor for Orange County troops.

Local and national Boy Scout officials on Wednesday said Roger A. Giese of Irvine, a former Eagle Scout, is prohibited from working with any of the nation's scouts, but would not disclose when he was blacklisted or whether the ban is related to the chorus allegations.

Giese, 27, was arrested Friday on suspicion of molesting a Buena Park teenager over four years starting in May 1998, when the youth was 13. Giese met the boy through the choir and was giving him private singing lessons at the youth's home, where the alleged abuse may have occurred.

Giese was released on a $200,000 bond after his arrest Friday, and is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 18. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

A day after the allegations became public, parents of some of the 150 boys in the internationally acclaimed All-American Boys Chorus on Wednesday expressed shock and disbelief. At least one parent said she was considering removing her son from the choir.

"It's crossed my mind. How could it not?" said Diane Chacon of Corona. "I just couldn't believe it. This organization is just run really, really smooth."

Chacon and other parents said chorus officials have taken extraordinary measures to protect the boys and said they were confident that no boys--including the youth who has accused Giese--were sexually abused while at any choir practices or events.

The allegations come about eight years after two former choirboys won settlements from the chorus, and the Diocese of Orange, over allegations they were molested by the chorus' founder, the Rev. Richard T. Coughlin. Coughlin, who started the choir in 1970 was never charged.

Anthony S. Manrique, executive director of the chorus, said the organization has strict guidelines about contact between staff members or volunteers and the boys in chorus.

Chorus staff also must undergo an FBI criminal background check, ensuring they have "impeccable" records, Manrique said Wednesday. Giese underwent the same background check and had no criminal history, he said.

Manrique said many distressed parents have called, but that all he has spoken with have expressed support for the organization.

No performances have been canceled, and no financial backers have withdrawn support, he said.

Some parents also are concerned about how the choir's reputation will reflect on the boys and their families.

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Times staff writer Dan Weikel contributed to this report.

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