I grew up in Logan, but Ogden is where my former perennial assistant scoutmaster, (an “inspired” ward calling in the LDS Mormon church), was brought to justice only a few years ago. I’m fifty now, so I’d have been mid to late forties when the news broke. That makes it around 36 years or so between when I was a scout and when this man was finally busted.
But he had been in that position for several years before I was old enough to be a scout. He was the assistant scoutmaster for at least two of my older brothers. That’s at least five years. So let’s say it was 41 years, at least, since he began his involvement with scouting until the time he was busted. My understanding is that he was involved with scouts much of that time.
When I was in deacons and priests quorum, (AKA: “scouts” in the LDS Mormon Church), we LOVED that guy! He was knowledgeable, made things fun, told great jokes and stories. He seemed to really love being a scouter. He helped us love it too.
There were two things that I remember thinking was weird, though. The first was that he definitely had his favorite boys in the troop. I never saw or even heard that he did anything to any of them specifically. But it was just weird and I know for sure that there were times when those guys would “hang out” with him in his tent. Weird.
The other one was this: At scout camp he was famous (infamous?) for making a “steam teepee” every year. “It gets so hot inside,”, he’d say, “you can’t wear any clothes. Not even a swimsuit!”.
We’d all huddle inside the stinky, humid, teepee with our flashlights and try not to accidentally look any anybody else’s midpubescent privates while ashamedly hoping nobody was looking at our own. The splashing of water on the glowing red hot rocks would commence…
When it got so hot we couldn’t stand it any longer, he’d fling open the door flap and we’d all run out, and jump in the lake. Heck, we thought it was hilarious! Loads of fun!
I remember one instance, for sure, that he or someone with him took pictures as we ran out and down to the lake. I remember some us joking that it was funny but yet a little weird that he’d do that.
Years later it turned out that he was molesting boys in, you guessed it, a scout troop. Actually my understanding is that he had inappropriate contact of various levels with numerous boys in more than one troop over the years. I’d have to look that up.
I am so grateful that I was not one of this twisted person’s victims! But I am simultaneously both extremely saddened and angered at the thought that one or more of my buddies, or even one or two of my brothers might have gone through some ordeal at his hands.
This is just one example. I know of others but they are the victims’ stories to tell; not mine.
But here’s the thing. I figure that various adults suspected or even knew, off and on, over the years; but didn’t say anything. They didn’t say anything for any number of reasons. But none of those reasons are valid reasons to protect an abuser or a suspected abuser.
Victims stay silent because of undue stigma, shame, fear of not being believed, fear of being accused of being a willing or knowing participant, etc. But it is not the victims fault. It is the responsibility of the adults to make sure this doesn’t happen! It is the adults who must bring the perpetrator to justice if it does happen!
Where was the spirit of discernment over so many years, so many church wards, and so many different local church leaders? Who knows how many boys could have been spared his heinous acts if there had been just a few questions asked, or if a background check had been performed? How many more sex trafficking rings run by bishops (recent, true story) do we have to hear about in the news before we realize that looking into a person’s eyes and feeling by the power of the Holy Ghost isn’t as strong a medicine as a child molester’s will to fool you?
Bottom line: we keep learning over and over again that the only way to stop this from happening is by putting the same common-sense controls in place as most other Christian sects have already implemented.