Secret Boy Scout case opened

Leaders: Telling parents about molester would 'open old wounds'

By PETER ZUCKERMAN
pzuckerman@postregister.com

Boy Scout leaders never told parents their children were molested at Scout camp because doing so would "open old wounds," a newly available sworn statement says.

Instead, the victims and the Camp Little Lemhi leader who molested them should "get on with their lives," the document said.

The record is one of more than 1,000 pages of court papers the public was allowed to look at for the first time Thursday. Boy Scout attorneys wanted to keep the papers secret and spent about two months fighting to hide them.

District Judge W.H. Woodland ruled against the Scouts last week and gave attorneys three days to black out victims' names.

The Boy Scouts thought they had no obligation to tell parents or police about Brad Stowell's victims, a September 2004 sworn statement says. The victims might not remember anything anyway, the statement says; they could have been asleep.

As a result, when parents appeared at trial, the plaintiff's attorneys realized at least one had no idea what had happened to her son, court records say.

Stowell molested at least 24 children at the Swan Valley camp.

The documents released Thursday provide more evidence that Scout leaders were warned about the pedophile before they hired him as waterfront director and ignored requests to get him out of Scouting.

The records also show that after Stowell finished serving his 150-day jail sentence for an abuse conviction, the registered sex offender took a cruise to the Bahamas, where he bought tickets for a Kayak Adventure trip that may have involved kids.

District 7 Probation and Parole manager Terry Kirkham said Stowell's probation officer and treatment provider approved the trip because Stowell was low-risk, had been in compliance with his probation and had been through some treatment.

The case is one of at least two negligence claims the Boy Scouts settled and tried to keep secret. Court staff members refused to release the first case. Once it was learned that it had not been legally closed, court officials blamed its disappearance from the public record on the computer system. Officials said the system misled court personnel into thinking a single sealed document kept the public out of the entire fire.

The second case was sealed as part of the settlement, which was reached before the Nov. 3, 2004, start of the trial.

Reporters were kicked out of the Feb. 23 hearing at which Boy Scout attorneys fought to keep the file locked, and when the case became available Thursday, some reporters had to wait in line to see it because clerk windows were too crowded with people trying to check it out.

Boy Scout attorneys argued that people wouldn't want to find out about the case. In a motion to keep the case secret, they said law doesn't allow people to look at the case and that innocent people involved might be harassed.

The victim wanted people to see the case, and the Post Register agreed to black out the names of innocent children before letting people look at the file. The newspaper argued that parents have a right to know how safe their children are when they send them to camp.

A comparison of the two cases shows that two judges given almost identical information came to different conclusions.

Seventh District Judge Gregory Anderson in the earlier case said the victims didn't have a right to seek punitive damages from the Boy Scouts; Judge Woodland said they do, which means the victims would have probably received more money if the case had gone to trial and the victims had won.

Efforts to reach Boy Scout executive Kim Hansen for comment were unsuccessful.

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