Mormon/Boy Scout sexual abuse problem
March 19th, 2010
Across the country boys bond in scouting, enjoying the experience of nature, learning social values, and earning recognition for doing good deeds. And the Boy Scouts of America provide a memorable and often rewarding experience for boys – provided that these boys are not same-sex attracted or skeptical about the Abrahamic God.
But for fourteen percent of Scouts, their experience could be more accurately described as religious training in the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the “Mormons”). Unlike a scouting group hosted by the local Methodist Church which meets in their basement, for the Mormons scouting is a part of the church, an official teaching mechanism that places theology as a higher priority than socialization. It serves not only for inculcating the beliefs of the church, but as an outreach tool.
Elder Robert Backman was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America in 1986 for his efforts in incorporating Scouting into the LDS Church’s Young Men organization. He is quoted in the Aaronic Priesthood Boy Scout Guide:
As you know, we are vitally concerned about our youth and feel that with the proper attention we can save many more than we are doing at the present time. I am convinced that Scouting is a mighty activity arm to hold these boys close while they learn to appreciate the honor of holding the priesthood of God.
If we do all else and lose the young man, we have failed in our sacred stewardship. We must not allow a separation of priesthood, Scouting, or athletics.
Every phase of the Scouting program should help young men and their leaders understand that Scouting activities are carried out to accomplish priesthood purposes.
For Mormons, family is a valued concept. But part of the definition of “family” is the concept of church brotherhood and the expectation that Mormons will raise their children to be integrated into the faith at a young age. Scouting is more of an expectation or obligation than an optional club.
And evidence is arising that the Boy Scouts of America may have taken steps to hide evidence of sexual abuse. And they may have done so for decades. (No. County Times)
The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.
The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.
And it further appears that the Mormon Church may have played a roll in giving some predators access to children.
The lawsuit also named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the Mormons acted as a charter organization, or sponsor, for the local Boy Scouts troop that included the victim. But the church has settled its portion of the case.
The Mormon bishop who also served as head of the Scout troop, Gordon McEwen, confronted Dykes after receiving a report of abuse by the mother of one boy in the troop in January 1983.
In a video deposition played for the jury, the bishop said Dykes admitted abusing 17 boys. But McEwen said he contacted the parents of all 17 boys and the boys themselves, and none would confirm any abuse.
Dykes was arrested in 1983 and pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse, received probation and was ordered to stay away from children.
Clark told the jury Dykes continued with his scouting activities until he was arrested in July 1984 during a routine traffic stop while he was driving a van full of Scouts on a camping trip.
It has yet to be determined whether Mormons are a significant segment of the thousands of Boy Scout sexual abuse cases. But this is not the first time that the Church has been accused of enabling predators.
The three men, who are brothers now aged 39, 41 and 43, claim that William E. Knox, 65, a Mormon church and Boy Scouts leader, molested them repeatedly in Sunnyvale between 1977 and 1987.
A brother identified as John Doe 2, who now lives in Georgia, said, “I’m a victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It was devastating to me. I’ve been abused hundreds of times over several years.”
The brother alleged, “During the abuse, I told the church leadership responsible to protect me and they did nothing to protect me.”
The Idaho Falls Post Register chronicles a story of abuse at an LDS scouting camp in the 1990’s which boggles the mind.
1988 Brad Stowell, 16, admits to Blackfoot police, his mother and his LDS bishop that he molested a 6-year-old neighbor. He is sent to LDS Social Services counseling.
1988 Stowell is hired to teach first aid at Camp Little Lemhi. He has testified he started preying on campers that summer.
1991 Richard J. Scarborough reports to the national Boy Scouts of America that a child molester has been hired to work at Camp Little Lemhi.
January 1994 Richard Scarborough writes to the LDS church president, complaining that local church leaders are ignoring his warning about the pedophile in the LDS Scout troop.
January 1995 Carol Scarborough tells Camp Little Lemhi program director Jim Summers that Brad Stowell molested a neighbor boy.
1995 Camp Little Lemhi director Richard Snow hires Stowell as aquatics director.
It continues in horrifying detail until Stowell is arrested in 1997 after repeated abuse.
And such abuse will continue for as long as the Scouts (and the Mormons and the Catholics and a whole host of other) continue to focus on and exclude gay people while ignoring the true source of the problem. They fear and expel gay men who are attracted to other adult men while ignoring the married, church going, men who secretly prey on available children of both sexes.
Now advocates for victims of child abuse are eagerly awaiting what the newly opened files will tell them. I’m certain that the Scouts are worried. I wonder if the LDS Church has reason to be concerned.