Taking the next step

Molestation victims and their families have avenues for help

Telling someone you've been molested is tough. Most people keep quiet or say something only when they're much older.

Nobody knows how many kids Brad Stowell molested. He confessed to preying on two dozen children, many of them while working at Camp Little Lemhi near Swan Valley. Using the Grand Teton Council's own numbers, he had access to about 7,000 Boy Scouts during the years he worked at camp.

Here's what to do if you, your child or a friend has been molested by Stowell or someone else and some information on how to protect your family.

Did Stowell molest you?

Stowell was first questioned for molesting in 1988, the same year he began preying on campers, according to sworn statements. Here's where Stowell has worked at camp:

• 1988 as a first-aid teacher

• 1989-90 as a waterfront instructor and other jobs

• 1991 as assistant aquatics director

(From 1992-93, he was in Anchorage, Alaska, serving an LDS mission.)

• 1995 as aquatics director

• 1996-97 as camp program director

• 1998-present: business in Idaho Falls

Here's what he looks like

B. Stowell

Many experts define "molested" as being touched by someone other than a medical professional in a way that makes the person feel uncomfortable in an area that would be covered by a bathing suit.

Did someone else molest you?

Telling someone you've been molested is tough. Most people keep quiet or say something only when they're much older.

Here are some reasons to speak out:

• The molester may still be preying upon others. If you don't say something, more people may be hurt. Even if you were molested more than a decade ago, police and health officials say you should report it.

• Telling someone is the first step to getting help. The effects of being molested can ruin your life. Victims often feel humiliated, guilty or depressed. One of Stowell's victims was so afraid of men he had trouble shaking their hands.

Experts recommend you call people or organizations with experience working with sexual-abuse victims. If you don't feel comfortable with that, at least tell a friend or family member who can help.

If you were recently abused, don't take a shower or throw out your old clothes. That's evidence that detectives can use to catch the abuser. Call police as soon as you can.

What if your child or friend was molested?

The most important thing you can do: Listen -- even if the victim has to tell you the story a dozen times.

Victims will rarely be direct, and a lot of times people won't believe them. Believe their story and be compassionate.

Victims will often tell you to keep their story a secret. If this happens, try to talk your friend into speaking to a teacher, a counselor or the police. Victims can call a hot line if they want to stay anonymous.

What can you do to protect your family?

Most parents don't talk to their kids about sex abuse. It's stressful. It's embarrassing. Parents are busy. Few ever think their kids will become targets.

Estimates of the frequency of child abuse in the United States range from 1 in 7 children to 1 in 30. Experts say it's worth talking about.

Estimates of the frequency of child abuse in the United States range from 1 in 7 children to 1 in 30. Experts say it's worth talking about

Here's what to discuss:

• What sex abuse is. Young kids often don't know.

• Who they can talk to. A lot of children won't tell their parents, so give them ideas for others they can tell.

• Promise you won't get mad at them if they tell you. If they think you'll get mad, they'll probably stay quiet.

Consider finding out whether any sex offenders live near you. Go to the Web site

Legal stuff

• The statute of limitations on most child sex-abuse crimes is five years after the person turns 18. If you're younger than 23, you may still be able to press charges against someone who molested you many years ago.

• The statute of limitations on most civil cases is two years after the crime. There may be some exceptions if you were not given access to all the information.

Whom to call

• Child Protection Services 24-Hour Crises Line: 528-5900

• Rape Response and Crime Victim Center 24-Hour Crises Line: 521-6018

• Idaho Falls Police Department: 529-1200

• Bingham County Sheriff's Office: 785-4440

• Butte County Sheriff's Office: 527-8553

• Fremont County Sheriff's Office: 624-4482

• Jefferson County Sheriff's Office: 745-9210

• Madison County Sheriff's Office: 356-5426

• Teton County Sheriff's Office: 354-2323

Idaho Falls reporter Peter Zuckerman can be reached at 542-6750.

Now the story can be told

Eastern Idahoans knew in 1997 that Brad Stowell had been arrested at Camp Little Lemhi and had pleaded guilty to molesting Boy Scouts there.

What they don't know is what professional Scout leaders knew in the years leading up to that verdict and to the Boy Scouts' decision to pay two victims who sued for negligence.

That's because two of Idaho's most powerful law firms succeeded in having the files sealed.

Representing the Scouts are Gary Dance and Marvin Smith. Dance is a partner in Moffatt Thomas, Barret Rock & Fields, about the fourth-largest law firm in Idaho, with 43 lawyers and offices in Boise, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Twin Falls. Smith is a former district judge and a partner in Anderson Nelson Hall & Smith, the home firm of Blake Hall. Hall hosts national GOP figures who visit Idaho and is a confidant of Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. He is chairman of the Idaho Board of Education and is the national GOP representative from Idaho. Though small, his firm holds major state and county contracts for legal work.

The negligence lawsuits didn't appear in the courthouse public access computer until the Post Register noted in print that the ISTARS system was reporting that the cases didn't exist, a situation legal experts have called highly unusual.

Court officials say one case disappeared from public view because of a computer glitch that has since been fixed. That case, including Stowell's admission that he molested 24 children, has since been unsealed.

The Boy Scouts are still fighting to keep the other case closed to "protect the names of the innocent victims," said Kim Hansen, Grand Teton Council executive director. But the Post Register, by longstanding policy, does not print the names of the sex-crime victims without their consent. Nor do any other reputable media outlets.

Judge W.H. Woodland, who signed the secret order that removed all references to that second case from the courthouse's public record, announced Feb. 24 that he will soon rule on the Post Register's request to open the case.

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Post Register, Idaho Falls, ID.

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