List of 1,200 suspected child abusers barred from volunteering with Boy Scouts includes 45 Mass. men
This story was reported by Travis Andersen and Martin Finucane of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Colin A. Young, Melanie Dostis, and Liam O’Kennedy. It was written by Andersen.
Forty-five people from Massachusetts are listed in the secret “perversion files” maintained by the Boy Scouts of America that were released Thursday by an Oregon legal team under an order from the Oregon Supreme Court.
The hometowns of Massachusetts residents listed in the Scouts’ ineligible volunteer files were spread across the state, from South Boston to Pittsfield. The files contained 44 names and one person listed as unknown.
Among the Massachusetts men listed is Donn W. Kruger. While living in Pepperell in 1980, he joined a troop in that town and resigned in December 1982, according to his file.
He was convicted that month of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, according to the database of the State Sex Offender Registry Board.
“The person involved has not been involved in Scouting since the incident and has indeed kept a very low profile,” a Scout official wrote of Kruger in a 1985 memo, which was included in his file. The official also wrote that the victim was not a Scout.
Kruger, now 70, was convicted on similar charges in 1998 and 2005 and is currently incarcerated, according to the state database.
Other men named in the files could not be reached for comment Thursday night, and the Globe is not naming anyone it could not confirm has been criminally charged. Some names were listed on the state offender database, but it could not be confirmed that they were the same people.
One of the law firms included in the legal team that won the release of the files as part of a child sexual abuse lawsuit said on its website that some of the abuse allegations in the files were later substantiated by court proceedings, but “in a great many cases no such substantiation ever occurred.”
The files were introduced in a 2010 Oregon civil suit that the Scouts lost, and the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the files should be made public. Lawyer Kelly Clark of Portland posted the files online Thursday after the Scouts had fought against their publication in the courts, he said on his website.
The legal team, which included the firm O’Donnell Clark and Crew LLP and lawyer Paul Mones, emphasized: “In fact, we are in no position to verify or attest to the truth of these allegations as they were compiled by the Boy Scouts of America. The incidents reported in these documents attest to notice of potential child abuse given to the Boy Scouts of America and its affiliates and their response to that notice.”
The files listed approximately 1,200 alleged child molesters from across the country who were accused of abuse between 1965 and 1985, Clark said on his website. The alleged abusers were barred from serving with the Scouts.
In Massachusetts Thursday, scouting groups including the Boston Minuteman Council, the Knox Trail Council, and the Annawon Council could not be reached for comment.
Another Bay State case made public was that of an Ayer man who, while volunteering with a troop in that town in the 1970s, “engaged in sexual acts” with a 12-year-old Scout, said an entry in the man’s file.
He declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday night. The Globe is not naming the man because it could not determine whether he had ever been charged.
One entry in his file states that he “has admitted to a morals offense against one of our scouts.”
“The family, including the scout, fortunately have decided not to prosecute,” the file says.
In addition, a former Catholic seminary student from Dorchester who admitted to sexually assaulting an 11-year-old Scout at Thompson’s Island in 1969 was listed with the names released, according to his file.
He also admitted to committing lewd acts in front of scouts at various time during troop meetings, the filing states. The man received a suspended prison sentence for his actions and was later treated by a therapist, he wrote in a letter to scout officials asking to be admitted to a South Boston troop. That request was denied.
“I admit I did something terribly wrong, and never have denied that fact,” the man wrote in his letter. “But through therapy, I was able to see the underlying causes. … I can assure you there is no further problem and can document this. How many other Scoutmasters can?”
The Globe did not name the man because it could not determine on Thursday night if the man was ever charged.
Among those with local scouting ties, reaction to the cases being publicized was fairly muted.
Alan D. Kline of Lynn, a committee member with Troop 53 in Swampscott and executive board member with the Yankee Clipper Council, said he has heard whispers of sexual abuse over the years.
“I don’t think it’s anything different than what the Catholic Church did,” he said.
“I’m not embarrassed by it,” he said. “I’m doing the best I can to educate people on how to prevent this kind of thing. I’m going to drive home the point that we’re doing something about it.”
Thomas Nut-Powell was a scout from 1955-1961 in State College, Penn., who now lives in Brookline. He said he was never aware of any abuse or cover-ups, but he sent back his Eagle Scout award over the Scouts’ policy of not admitting gays.
“How is it that people so give in to this lust that they go to a place where good things are supposed to happen and make it bad?” he said.
Clark’s website said testimony in the 2010 suit showed the Scouts began keeping the files as early as the 1920s, but those released Thursday covered 1965 to 1985.
The Associated Press reported that the 14,500 pages of the files showed that decade after decade, an array of authorities — police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors, and local Boy Scout leaders among them — shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children.
In a statement on Thursday, the Boy Scouts admitted that they had not always responded appropriately when allegations surfaced.
“There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong,” the statement said.
“Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families.”
The Boy Scouts added that the organization is now “a leader” among youth organizations in terms of protecting children from abuse.
Among the safeguards the Scouts currently have in place are requiring background checks, training programs for staff and volunteers, and mandated reporting of even suspected abuse cases, according to the statement.
The organization also defended its practice of keeping a database of people barred from serving with the Boy Scouts.
“Experts have found that the BSA’s system of Ineligible Volunteer Files functions well to help protect Scouts by denying entry to dangerous individuals, and Scouting believes that they play an important role in our comprehensive youth protection system.”
Carmen Durso, a Boston lawyer who represents child sex abuse victims, has brought cases against institutions including the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church.
The pattern of covering up allegations no longer surprises him, he said. “It saddens me that what you keep seeing over and over again, institution after institution . . . is that the goal of preserving the organization’s reputation and its funds have become more important than taking care of the kids for whom the organizations were started in the first place.”Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.