By Kelly Just, Special Projects Executive Producer - email
Posted by DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Manager - email
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -
The Boy Scouts of America are under heavy fire these days: first, for the group's stance against membership by gays, and second, for the so-called perversion files.
A judge in December ordered the release of tens of thousands of pages detailing decades of alleged sexual abuse by men inside the organization against Scouts in their care. Instead of turning these tips over to law enforcement for investigation, the Boy Scouts of America chose to keep them in private files. That has left many struggling to understand why this trusted group chose to seemingly protect these alleged perpetrators over innocent children.
For the first time, a Kansas City area man reveals his story of sexual abuse at the hands of a Boy Scout volunteer 30 years ago. The release of the so-called "perversion files" prompted this man, who KCTV5 is calling John Doe, to speak up about what he says happened to him at Camp Naish in Bonner Springs, KS.
In the summer of 1979, Doe was looking forward to attending the Boy Scout camp. The then-9-year-old had no idea the survival skills he learned at Camp Naish would include learning to deal with sexual assault.
"How did this (the sexual assault) change you as a person?" KCTV5 reporter Jeanene Kiesling asked.
"I'm not sure. I don't know what it would be like to be normal." Doe replied. "It's always been there. It's always been a huge weight. It's torn me up for a lot of years."
Now in his 40s and married with two daughters of his own, Doe says he worked to forget what had happened, until the Boy Scout perversion files were made public. Included among them was a letter Doe's father wrote 30 years ago, begging for the name of the man who hurt his son.
"It's been horrible. All these feelings come rushing back and I can't sleep thinking about it," Doe said. "(It) brought a lot of weight back that I thought I was trying to get behind me."
Doe says his mind has blocked out some details from that first camp assault but he does recall that it happened while he was earning a merit badge in canoeing. He says he was left alone at the pool with a volunteer that he had never met before.
"I was in the canoe and he was holding the canoe so it wouldn't tip over. I've tried to piece it together from getting in the canoe to how I got out of there. I don't remember. I don't remember how I got away from the pool," Doe said. "I do remember being in a position in the pool and in the canoe I felt like my life was in danger. If I didn't go along with whatever his instructions were (that) my life was in danger."
Doe describes that incident as the moment he lost both innocence and trust. Doe says while he wanted to pretend nothing had happened, he couldn't stop questioning whether he had done something wrong to cause the attack.
"What happened on the second occasion?" Kiesling asked.
"I was going to the cafeteria and I took a wrong path down a trail and he happened to be on the trail and we were by ourselves there," Doe said.
"When you saw him the second time, what went through your mind?"
Doe says he never planned to tell anyone about the alleged assaults. Back at home, he began to act more and more reserved and withdrawn. When his parents confronted him about his changed behavior, Doe says he reluctantly shared the horror he had suffered by a man whose name he didn't know. Doe says his father took immediate action.
"He went to great lengths to try and find out what happened," Doe said. "Multiple letters were sent to the scouting program. (There were) attempts to communicate with the leaders of the church the scouting program was associated with. And we always hit brick walls. I was told they would send documents; we would need to fill out forms. We would fill out (forms) for the Scouts that never showed up and correspondence just dropped off on their end. There was nothing else that could be done."
Doe says his father continued to press for answers from the church who organized the Boy Scout outing. Doe says those pleadings were met with a memorable response.
"He (the church leader) said nothing good would ever come of it, and just sweep it under the rug," Doe recalled his father being told.
Doe says he did just that. Despite feeling let down by his church and an organization he once loved, Doe says he thought the Boy Scouts must have done something to handle his situation. He says he believed he was this volunteer's lone victim. The perversion file containing his father's letter proved him wrong.
The file has a name on it. So while Doe's family never knew who attacked the boy, it appears the Boy Scouts had quickly put it together and confronted the volunteer. A handwritten note in the file says the alleged abuser was talked to and that he "understands." The file contains a second allegation of physical abuse against a different boy that same summer in Bonner Springs, KS.
"I have a feeling nothing is an isolated incident," Doe said. "I think that this individual has done this many times and harmed a lot of people."
According to the Boy Scout file, it wasn't until 1991 that the organization decided to put Doe's alleged attacker in their "ineligible file," prohibiting him ever volunteering again.
"Do you think the Boy Scouts' allowing him to stay on enabled him to victimize more children?" Kiesling asked.
"I'm sure it did," Doe replied. "I think he purposely sought out a position where he could be around people like this, and it was really troublesome to learn he did this for another 12 years."
The release of the perversion file and the possibility of other victims is what have Doe coming forward now. He has hired attorneys Tobi Bitner and Jamie Brun to see if he can sue the Boy Scouts in civil court for what he believes was a cover up of widespread sexual abuse.
"In reviewing of that file, you can see parents reached out and were practically begging the Boy Scouts to assist them in stopping this person from injuring children," Bitner said. "However, even though those parents were reaching out and utilizing every tool they knew how at that time they did not receive any assistance."
Before Doe agreed to come forward and tell his story, he had to complete a very difficult task - telling his wife of nearly 15 years what had happened to him so many years ago.
"How difficult was that conversation?" Kiesling asked.
"Very," Doe said. "It was very difficult, not only that I kind of buried things for a while but how she would look at me afterwards. It was tough."
KCTV5 reached out to both the Boy Scouts of America and the church that planned the Camp Naish outing for comment on Doe's story. Neither responded.
KCTV5 also tracked down the man who is named in the perversion file containing Doe's allegation of abuse to get his side of the story. He also never responded.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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