Scout case 'not found'

Court records show fourth pedophile led several Boy Scouts outings

By PETER ZUCKERMAN . PZUCKERMAN@POSTREGISTER.COM . COPYRIGHT 2005 POST REGISTER


Illustration by Jerry Painter / Post Register, based on photocopy of court file cover

Court records shown to the Post Register on Tuesday reveal a fourth pedophile worked or volunteered for the local Boy Scouts.

Robert "Scott" Price, now 43, is serving 15 years to life for using alcohol, pornography and money to get children to have sex with him. He was associated with the Grand Teton Council as recently as 2002.

Little was known about the Price case until now because it was under an extraordinary veil of secrecy for a criminal prosecution. This is consistent with unusual secrecy measures that have been applied to two other pedophile cases involving eastern Idaho's Grand Teton Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

On Tuesday, using the court's own system to look up the Price case by name and by case number, the courthouse computer system in Pocatello replied "Case Not Found."

Robert Scott Price

Records clerks in Bannock County initially declined to give any information about the Price case, but when given the case number, they confirmed it existed.

The Idaho State Journal reported on March 22, 2002, that the case had been sealed. The newspaper reported briefly on some court proceedings, which were open to the public.

On Tuesday, acting on tips from two callers, the Post Register gained access to the Price file through the judge's clerk, who reviewed the sealing order, which showed that the file should now be open and should have been since the pretrial preliminary hearing three years ago.

Court clerks declined to allow the Post Register to photocopy the case. The clerks wanted to talk to the judge first to find out whether names needed to be blacked out, as is often done in sex abuse cases to protect the victims' privacy.

Below is a summary of the Price case. Unless otherwise noted, this information is based on records viewed Tuesday from file CR-2002-105FE; a Bannock County Sheriff's Office report; an interview with Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake President William McKee and others familiar with the case; and records of the Idaho Department of Correction.

Price was a Scout and youth leader at an LDS church in Bannock County. He worked as a realtor and, before that, an officer for the Pocatello Police Department.

Price may have started molesting in the mid-'90s, though some records indicate he started earlier. Around the winter of 1994 or 1995 is when the Bannock County Sheriff's Office report says Price and some Scouts stayed in a cabin near Driggs, close to the Tetons.

The cabin had two queen-size beds, and Price slept with one of the boys, about 14, and molested him. The boy didn't report the incident to police until several years later.

At least 14 incidents, which involved oral sex and fondling of boys ages 15 to 17, followed, according to the sheriff's office report.

Other pedophiles who worked in the Grand Teton Council

• DENNIS EMPEY: Swan Valley Boy Scout Camp waterfront instructor alleged to have raped a Scout in 1983 after flashing a gun and mutilating animals. Jeff Bird, then 15, said he told Grand Teton Council Executive Kim Hansen. Hansen ignored him, Bird says. Convicted of raping boys in Utah, Empey got off probation and was paid in June for Internet work for the Grand Teton Council.

• JEFF HARDIN: Scout camp waterfront instructor who molested a boy he met at Camp Little Lemhi "too many times to count," according to the victim. He was sentenced to probation in December 1991.



• BRAD STOWELL: Camp Little Lemhi waterfront instructor who molested at least 24 boys, many of them Scouts. He was rehired despite written warnings. Junior counselor Adam Steed said he complained about Stowell but was ignored. After Stowell's 1997 arrest, Boy Scout attorney Gary Dance said some parents weren't told their children had been molested because doing so would "open old wounds," according to a sworn statement. Hansen, who fought to keep court records about Stowell secret, has said Stowell is the only pedophile who has worked for the Grand Teton Council.

Price typically gave the boys alcohol, showed them pornography and paid boys between $50 and $100 for various sex acts.

The attacks occurred in several areas. The places mentioned in the sheriff's office report include Challis, Pocatello, Power County, Salmon, Fort Hall, Mount Borah, Bannock County, Montpelier and Soda Springs.

Price encouraged his victims to be quiet and once told one that "later you will think it felt good, and you will beg me for more," the sheriff's office report says. He told the boys they would ruin his life if he was turned in and that the boys wouldn't be able to go on LDS missions if anyone found out, investigators reported.

It's clear that at least some of these attacks involved Boy Scouts, but sources could not provide a specific number.

Several episodes occurred during church-sponsored camping trips for young men. The Boy Scouts, the official young men's program of the LDS church, frequently involves camping trips, and Price was a Scout leader.

Hiedeman, the prosecutor, said Price found most of his victims through the Boy Scouts. The Grand Teton Council is in charge of Scouting in many of the areas Price worked.

But LDS Stake President William McKee said many of these trips were not sponsored by the church or the Scouts; Price led the trips on his own and met some victims outside of church. Church leaders, he said, teamed up with detectives to find out what Price had done.

Police arrested Price, who appeared in court for the first time on March 1, 2001. He was released from jail on a $100,000 bond while deputies investigated his case. By May 2, 2002, Price had returned to Scouting, sheriff's investigators reported. At least one person, whose name is blacked out from the sheriff's office report, was "very concerned about Price being around the young boys" at Boy Scout functions, the sheriff's office report says.

On May 7, 2002, Judge Randy Smith ordered that Price be arrested for violating the terms of his release by spending time alone with children.

Charged with five felonies, Price pleaded guilty June 20, 2002, to three: sexual abuse of a child under 16, lewd conduct with a child under 16 and sexual battery of a child 16 or 17 years old.

Smith received at least 40 letters from people affected by Price's conduct. One of them reads:

"My son said a BSA [Boy Scouts of America] member had done [im]proper things with him. ... Why had no one picked it up before? Why was no one cautious? ... It was because ... we don't want to think bad of those close to us and ... because Scott Price has obviously spent a lot of time building a charisma and a good picture of himself."

The judge sentenced Price on Sept. 5, 2002.

"The Defendant sexually molested several underage boys (at least eight) since 1987," the judge wrote on Dec. 23, 2002, regarding a hearing where he refused to reduce the sentence. "Mr. Price also used his position as a leader in the boys' church, as a Scout leader and as a friend. ... Given the evidence here, he cannot have a life without supervision."

Peter Zuckerman can be reached at 542-6750.


ON THE RECORD

"The Defendant sexually molested several underage boys (at least eight) since 1987, using alcohol, pornography and rewards (including money) for enticement."

-- District Judge Randy Smith, Dec. 23, 2002

"You will be held accountable by the master Judge our King our Lord and savior for the wrongs (even while wearing the Robe) and over zealous abusive sentence(s) you gave me and any others. Repent, I will have to forgive you."

-- Robert Scott Price's Dec. 2, 2003, letter to District Judge Randy Smith

''Mr. Price also used his position as a leader in the boys' church, as a Scout leader and as a friend. ... Given the evidence here, he cannot have a life without supervision."

JUDGE RANDY SMITH

Dec. 23, 2002

To read prior coverage of the pedophile cases involving the Grand Teton Council, visit this Web site:

www.postregister.com /scouts_honor/index.php

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