By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Twenty reports of alleged sexual abuse in Mississippi’s Boy Scouts of America units came to light Thursday with an online national “perversion file” disclosure.
None came from Northeast Mississippi, although the 15,000 pages of documents detail accusations against 1,247 Scout leaders between 1959 and 1985, with a handful from later years.
“Unfortunately, this is the world we live in,” said Rick Chapman, Scout executive for the region’s Yocona Area Council of BSA.
The 12-county council’s leaders have a renewed focus on creating a safe environment for their youths, he said.
“That’s the starting point and it’s our commitment to offer a safe place for them to learn everything Scouting has to offer,” he said one day after release of the national sex-abuse documents.
Decades of BSA sexual abuse were revealed for the first time Thursday because of an Oregon Supreme Court decision, responding to a 2010 civil lawsuit against the Scouts.
“The secrets are out,” the New York Times quoted Oregon attorney Kelly Clark, whose firm obtained the files as evidence in an $18.5 million civil judgment in the case.
Scouting officials fought in court for years to prevent the release of the documents, reportedly referred to in-house as the “perversion files.”
In the massive database including Mississippi’s 20 reported incidents, only one of this state’s alleged perpetrators was listed – a Louisiana man, Steve Allen Adams, convicted of sexual battery while volunteering at a Kiln Scout camp.
Not made public were any relatively recent accusations, although it’s public record that at least one person is under indictment in Lee County charged with fondling a young Scout during the summer of 2010. He’s scheduled to go on trial soon.
Mississippi Scouting sex-abuse reports, listed from 1958 to 2003, were for units in Belzoni (Unit 91), Biloxi (211, 213, 214, 250, 219), Cleveland (23), Columbia (6078), Columbus (3), Greenwood (460), Hattiesburg (116), Hazlehurst (no unit number), Hernando (741), Indianola (41), Long Beach (321), Meridian (42), Olive Branch (234), Star (82) and Vicksburg (76).
Other than the Adams document, none of the listings show anything but an identification number for the accused person and the Scout unit numbers.
But the report shows the same ID number for three alleged incidents in 1987 in Greenwood, Cleveland and Hazlehurst, and two other numbers for two in 1989 and three in 1958 in Biloxi.
Wayne Perry, BSA national president, told the New York Times in a telephone interview this week, “We definitely fell short – for that we just have to apologize to the victims and the parents and say that we’re profoundly sorry.”
While Yocona’s Chapman says BSA trains its parents, volunteers and youth to be aware of threats like this, “you have to be on guard of it and never turn a blind eye to it.”
Daily Journal reporter JB Clarkcontributed to this report.
By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
Yocona Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which covers 12 Northeast Mississippi counties, was not mentioned in the 15,000-page “perversion file” recently released by an Oregon Supreme Court civil lawsuit.
The file contains sexual abuse allegations in Boy Scout troops from 1959 until 1985, with a handful from later years.
It’s unclear the extent of what’s happened or been reported since then, except the indictment of at least one Scouting volunteer in Lee County in 2012.
The 49-year-old man is charged with sexual battery stemming from an alleged 2010 incident with a Scout. He is still in the Lee County jail awaiting trial.
Rick Chapman, Yocona’s Scout executive, said precautionary steps include criminal checks on employees and volunteers, along with references into a national list of all volunteers who have had sexual misconduct allegations made against them.
Chapman said before anyone is approved as a volunteer, they have to be recommended by the chartering organization, such as a church, school or civic club sponsor for the troop, and are background checked through the council.
In an instance like the alleged 2010 misconduct, Chapman said the council’s policy is to immediately turn the allegations over to law enforcement.
Once an allegation is made, the accused individual is immediately removed from any Scouting position and put on a national list so they can’t volunteer in other troops.
“For us, we’re vouched on the youth and families and leaders in the 12 counties of Northeast Mississippi and are making sure they know everything we do for the protection of the youth here,” Chapman said. “We have to provide a safe environment before we can even begin to impact a boy’s life – that’s the starting point, and it’s our commitment.”
The Yocona Area Council consists of 115 troops and more than 1,000 volunteers who serve 4,000 youth in Alcorn, Benton, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Prentiss, Pontotoc, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union and Yalobusha counties.
Steve Allen Adams is the only person named as a Mississippi Scouting sexual abuser in a massive document release this week of what the Boy Scouts of America termed its “perversion file.”
The 15,000 pages of information, some very explicit, became public by order of the Oregon Supreme Court as evidence in an $18.5 million judgment against Scouting.
Adams was a 31-year-old Schriever, La., collection agent described on his 1987 Scouting suspension document as “grossly overweight” and a volunteer auxiliary sheriff’s deputy.
Bay St. Louis attack
At age 33, he was convicted in Bay St. Louis in 1989 of a sexual attack on a 15-year-old junior counselor at Camp Salmen Scout Reservation north of Kiln. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Adams reportedly worked for BSA about five years and assisted with summer camp programs for three. At Camp Salmen, Adams was hired to work in the mini-hospital and help Scouts earn merit badges in health because he was a certified emergency medical technician.
News reports stated that after Adams was sentenced, jurors learned he had a prior sex conviction in California.
In national coverage of the document release, Scouting was cited for a “corrosive culture of secrecy” that compounded the incidents.
In the 29-page Adams report, in August 1987 correspondence between Louisiana Scouting officials, one writes that their New Orleans executive “has been advised to say as little as possible to the media” and hopes that if and when Adams were charged criminally, it “may not come to the media’s attention.”
Also in the report is a note that one Scouting official had “expressed a concern” about Adams because he was in his mid-30s and “not married.”
Another result of revelations about Adams’ behavior was that camp staff was ordered to immediately stop “attitude adjustment sessions,” which apparently were hazing rituals during which condiments and other substances were rubbed over the body of the person being hazed.
Nineteen other Scouting sex-abuse incidents were reported for Mississippi in the document release for 1959-1985, although alleged perpetrators are listed only by identification numbers along with the town and Scout unit number affected by the allegations.