Advertisement
 
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsNews

Top executives did not report suspected Scout abuse cases, files show

Despite lapses, the files indicate that the top officials may have followed policy and violated no laws.

December 30, 2012|By Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times
  • Wayne Brock is the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America. As he and his recent predecessors rose through the ranks of Scouting, they handled at least 120 cases of suspected sexual abuse dating from the mid-1970s, according to a Times analysis of confidential Scout files.
Wayne Brock is the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America. As he and… (Associated Press )

In 1987, a Scoutmaster at a camp in northeast Georgia was accused of fondling a boy in a sleeping bag.

The local Boy Scouts executive, Wayne Brock, followed Scouting procedures and documented the allegation before forwarding it to the group's Texas headquarters, where it was added to confidential files on leaders suspected of molesting children.

The Scoutmaster was expelled and left town in a matter of days. The police were never told, interviews and records show.

DATABASE: Search the "perversion" files 

Today, Brock is the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America.

As he and his recent predecessors rose through the ranks of Scouting, they handled at least 120 cases of suspected sexual abuse dating from the mid-1970s, according to a Times analysis of confidential Boy Scout files.

As district executives, it was their job to gather evidence and witness statements, determine whether to recommend a leader's expulsion and report their findings to headquarters, which made the final decision.

VIDEO: Victims speak out

In the process, the officials had a front-row seat on cases in which Scouting's abuse-prevention policies failed.

Although the officials may have followed Scout policy and violated no laws, the files in several cases indicate that they did not inform authorities — or their communities — of suspected child molesters who were expelled from the organization.

The Boy Scouts would not make Brock or the former chief executives available for interviews. Brock did not return calls to his home and cellphone.

In a statement, a spokesman said it was impossible to comment on specific, decades-old files. Instead, the spokesman highlighted the executives' contributions to abuse-prevention policies, including the requirement in 2010 that any suspicion of abuse be reported to police.

Faced in recent months with the public release of hundreds of files by court order, Scouting officials have acknowledged that "in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong."

Brock was a regional executive in the Appalachian foothills of Georgia when allegations surfaced that Scoutmaster Peter A. Gross had fondled a boy.

The alleged molestation was witnessed by another Scout, who confronted Gross "in the act," boys in the troop later told a parent, according to an account in the Boy Scout file on the case.

Gross gathered the boys together and "told them not to tell anybody and that he was having a dream of a pretty lady and that was why he was 'playing with the Scout' in bed with him," the account says.

A few days later, Gross told a Scouting official a different story: The Scout had fallen from his bunk during a "terrible thunderstorm," according to the file. "I had him sleep with me to calm him. Nothing else happened!"

In a recent interview, Gross said that story sounded far-fetched and insisted he never told it. He denied fondling the boy and said he can't explain why the troop accused him.

Brock forwarded the allegations to Scouting headquarters. The file contains no indication that Brock or other Scouting officials notified law enforcement. The Rabun County sheriff's office said they had no record of being told, and Gross and a local Scouting official said they were never contacted by authorities.

On April 8, 1988, headquarters notified Brock of Gross' expulsion. Four days later, a change in Georgia law went into effect requiring employees of youth organizations to report suspected abuse to law enforcement.

Because Brock learned of the alleged abuse before the new law took effect, it isn't clear whether he was required to report it to authorities.

J. Tom Morgan, a former district attorney of DeKalb County and coauthor of the law, said it was unlikely to be applied retroactively, even by a few days.

Melissa Carter, director of Emory University's Barton Child Law and Policy Center, disagreed: "If he had reasonable cause to believe a child had been abused, that is knowledge that persists over time," she said. "That was no different on April 8 than on April 13."

Carter and Morgan agreed on one thing: Brock should have reported the allegations to police.

Days after being accused, Gross said, he moved to Florida for a few years. Today, he is a truck driver living 20 miles from where the alleged incident took place.

Few know about the allegations, and Gross, who has no criminal record, said he hopes it stays that way.

"I was fortunate that it didn't go any further," Gross said. "I was thankful for that."

::

Brock's predecessor, Robert Mazzuca, spent two decades as a regional Scout executive in California and Pennsylvania. He sent an average of one case a year to headquarters detailing allegations of child molestation.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|