By PETER ZUCKERMAN . PZUCKERMAN@POSTREGISTER.COM . AND POST REGISTER STAFF

COPYRIGHT 2005 POST REGISTER

After further review ...

Boy Scouts say no changes needed in molestation policy

Hansen

The Boy Scouts haven't made many changes after the arrest of a camp leader who confessed to molesting children.

That's because they aren't needed, said Kim Hansen, executive director of the Grand Teton Council, which oversees Scouting in the region. The policies are good and Scout leaders obeyed them, he said.

"I don't think we're responsible for Mr. (Brad) Stowell's actions," he said, referring to the convicted pedophile who has confessed to molesting two dozen children, one of whom was 6 years old.

Wrong, said Laurie Gaffney, the attorney for the two victims who successfully sued the Scouts. She agrees the Scouts have a good child-protection program but said "policies are useless if you don't follow them."

When the Scouts hired Stowell, at least one of the organization's board members -- Stowell's mother, Judith -- knew that as a teenager, Stowell had been sent to counseling for abusing a child.

A source involved in the investigations of Brad Stowell's molestation of Boy Scout campers forwarded this letter to the Post Register. Although the letter says the Post Register's reporting is untrue, the letter was mailed two days before any part of the "Scouts' honor" series was published.

Letters reporting abuse were mailed to Scout leaders at least six years before Stowell's arrest. And one of the victims said in a sworn statement he never received any training from the Scouts about sex abuse, as policy requires.

It's unclear what kind of review Scout leaders did after Stowell's arrest.

There wasn't one, Camp Director Elias Lopez said in a sworn statement taken three years after the arrest.

But Hansen said Scout leaders review camp problems every year, and that after Brad Stowell was arrested and pleaded guilty, they concluded they acted just as they should, immediately reporting the molestation allegations to police.

Hansen said the Scouts knew about three of the victims and contacted two. The other parent was at camp during the arrest.

Scout regulations require the district executive, Hansen, to contact the parents any time a boy is abused.

Since his sentencing, Stowell has confessed to molesting 24 children.

Experts agree the Boy Scouts of America have designed a good child-protection program, and that even the best programs allow some predators to slip through.

And although Hansen said no changes were made as a result of the Stowell case, the Scouts have tightened up some controls on who gets to wear the leaders' uniform.

B. Stowell

Two years ago, the organization began doing criminal background checks on adult leaders, and it does the checks again every time the leaders move to a new position. The Boy Scouts have expanded their abuse-education program so staffers can do more training on the Internet.

Here in eastern Idaho, the sleeping areas at Camp Little Lemhi have been moved to a more visible area, and the showers have been changed.

"Your children are never completely safe," Hansen said, "but we have one of the best protection programs around."

Post Register courts and crime reporter Peter Zuckerman can be reached at 542-6750.




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