Chippewa Valley (WQOW) — Earlier this week, a scathing report showed widespread abuse has happened in the Boy Scouts, and some of those accused were from right here in the Chippewa Valley.
The Los Angeles Times recently compiled a comprehensive list of sexual abuse allegations in the Boy Scouts of America.
More than 100 reports were filed in Wisconsin between 1961 and 2003. Between 1972 and 2002, there were five reports in Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Mondovi, of Boy Scout leaders accused of sexually assaulting scouts.
Of those five cases, our searches showed only one of them had official court charges. In 1989, James Razer, a Chippewa Falls scout leader, was found guilty of third degree sexual assault for abusing a scout. He was permanently barred from the Boy Scouts of America.
The Dane County Rape Crisis Center executive director, Erin Thornley Parisi, told our Madison sister-station, Predators tend to seek out groups where they can work closely with children, like the Boy Scouts.
“That is very conducive to the grooming process that it takes in order for that sexual assault to occur,” Thornley Parisi said.
Tim Molepske, executive director of the Chippewa Valley Council – Boy Scouts of America, told News 18 they now have procedures in place to help prevent abuse.
“We require every adult leader to go through youth protection training online, semi-annually, and even before they apply to make sure they understand the policies and procedures of the Boy Scouts of America,” Molepske said. “Every adult leader has to fill out an application that has some background questions to make sure that they can work with youth. Part of our background process, we do catch some people, and we make sure they are removed before they’re even involved.”
If a scout were to come forward with allegations, Molepske said it would be reported to police immediately, so they could start an investigation. The volunteer in question would be removed from the troop and their membership terminated, and counseling would be made available.
“Over 100 years we’ve had lots of youth in our program, and we just want to make sure every single one of them is safe, so we have barriers of protection in place,” added Molepske.
As a father, Molepske said he takes the safety of scouts personally.
“One of my number one jobs to make sure our youth are protected and safe because they can’t get the great experience that scouting has to offer, unless they’re in a safe environment,” Molepske said.
In his nearly three years with the Chippewa Valley Council, Molepske said he has not had to deal with any issues of sexual abuse, and hopes he never will.
The Boy Scouts of America released a statement in response to the database;
We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.
Throughout our history, we have enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse, including mandatory youth protection trainings and a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks. Since the 1920s, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or re-entering our programs, a practice recommended in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control for all youth-serving organizations.
At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement.
Boy Scouts of America also provided us the following information.
The BSA has adopted some of the strongest barriers to abuse found in any youth-serving organization and we take the responsibility to uphold those barriers seriously. Today, we are considered by many of the top experts in youth protection policies to be leaders in this effort. The safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs is our top priority. We have screening procedures for registered leaders and act swiftly to report abuse allegations to law enforcement.
- Decades ago, we adopted some of the strongest barriers to abuse found in any youth-serving organization, and we take the responsibility to uphold those barriers seriously. Today, we are considered by many of the top experts in youth protection to be leaders in this effort.
- Youth protection training is mandatory for all registered leaders, and we also provide educational materials to parent and Scouts.
- The BSA has a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screenings.
- We have a strict “two-deep” leadership policy, which requires that a youth is never alone with an adult leader during Scouting activities. Additionally, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his or her own parent/guardian. We also prohibit one-on-one contact between adults and youth members, including texting and communications on social media.
- We actively share and encourage the use of our 24/7 Scouts First Helpline to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior. Further, we mandate that all allegations or suspicion of abuse are reported to authorities. In addition to removing the individual from Scouting, this means that if we receive a report regarding any suspicious activity or allegations of abuse, our next call is to law enforcement, whose investigation we support unequivocally.
- The BSA promotes a culture of safe Scouting and has a full-time Youth Protection Director, who is highly respected by child advocacy and youth protection experts.
- Additionally, our Volunteer Screening Database is at the forefront of youth protection procedures. While it has often been misunderstood and criticized, time and time again it has successfully prevented potential predators from re-joining our organization and gaining access to youth. That is precisely why we have been maintaining these records since the 1920s.