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Review of BSA files leads to arrest of former scout leader and his boyfriend in Phoenix

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  • #16
    Challberg's original report in the BSA blacklist file is available for viewing here: http://documents.latimes.com/william-j-challberg/

    You can pull up all the released files by area and read the original BSA reports here: http://spreadsheets.latimes.com/boyscouts-cases/ It's pretty depressing reading, but probably essential if you're a youth leader.

    Yeah, this shoud have been reported to the police as soon as possible. He was inviting boys to his place, showing gay porn to boys, touching them, and finally molesting them. The problem with many of the cases involving scout leaders, teachers, and clergy in that era is that deference - perhaps too much deference - was paid to the victims' family in reporting. I can easily see how the family might have talked to the boy, who would have felt embarassment and shame at what happened and would probably have said he didn't want it to be made public, and the family would decide not to file a police report if the BSA was going to expel him. As a result, the boy carries that unresolved issue for years, and even worse, other victims are created later.

    As disclosure was usually made after some time had elapsed, there would likely not have been medical forensic evidence, and the case could have devolved to conflicting statements. Even if the police wanted to prosecute, the local prosecutor could have declined based on lack of corpus. Prosecutors are ethically bound by their bar association rules not to charge a case if they don't have a reasonable belief they can win, and many use that as an excuse to bail.

    It's easier now to charge a case, as we have greater public awareness, better victim service specialists, better forensic evidence and use of the SANE medical protocol for sexual assault examinations, far better mandated interview protocols for juvenile victims, often better legal protections for victims who are minors, far heavier sentences in many jurisdictions (in Arizona, where this happened, there is a 105 year sentencing minimum for each count of sexual contact with a minor under 15, and each charge is stacked, not served concurrently) which leads to far more common acceptance of a plea and often spares the victim the need to testify, and due to the rise of the Digital Age, a more easily found electronic trail that can often be used as evidence.
    Last edited by AZMike; 06-14-2014, 01:32 PM.

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    • #17
      RememberSchiff and packsaddle ... Hindsight is cheap.

      AZMike ... "Deference". Well said.

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      • #18
        Fred, the right thing to do might be hard but it is still the right thing to do, and BSA didn't. Hindsight is all we have when dealing with historical events. That and regret, if we didn't do the right thing. If you think that's cheap, that's your opinion.

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        • #19
          I have to disagree with AZMike on two key points. First, the deference that prevented BSA and similar groups, the Catholic Church in particular, to not report these incidents wasn't a deference to the family's interests it was a deference to the institution's reputation. The institutions didn't want people to know that this kind of thing could happen to their children in their organization. They wanted to maintain the myth that Scoutmasters and priests just wouldn't do this type of thing. The institutional response was always to quietly get rid of the offender and then keep quiet. If it was otherwise there would have been substantially more reporting of these incidents, but there wasn't. Very very few of these files contain any evidence that they wanted to or tried to do anything more with regard to notifying actual authorities.
          As to prosecutors, they are not bound to only bring cases they can win, they are bound to only bring cases that are supported by some evidence. A victim's statement is virtually always enough evidence to support the charging of a crime.

          The other thing to remember is that we have had this information in our files since 1986 AND WE DIDN"T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT UNTIL THE COURTS FORCED US TO.

          Even if 1986 was too long ago how about 1996, 2006? It took court orders to reveal the contents before we would let anyone look at these files. The information to stop this rapist sat in our possession for decades and we refused to share it with anyone. When should we have helped stop this predator? The answer is long before we actually did.

          This isn't about cheap hindsight, this is admitting that the organization we love and that many of us were probably a part of even back then acted poorly and ignobly and we should admit that, especially to ourselves.

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          • #20
            60% of Ineligible Volunteer-Perversion files involving a minor (let's don't forget that there's more than one way to land in the IVP section, including just being gay, and there are multiple categories of IV files) contain information from the public domain, including "newspaper articles, police reports, criminal justice records, and/or records of civil litigation."
            This was not a BSA problem, it was an America problem. Unlike the rest of the country, BSA created a comprehensive, nationwide system to keep these people out when they were reported, innocent or guilty.

            Like Fred said, hindsight is cheap. In every stage of the evolution on thinking about sexual abuse, BSA has been ahead of the curve--the federal law requiring proof of age in porno didn't even exist until 1988, 5 years after this gay guy took the Polaroids of his victim. The parents didn't even call the police, from a contemporary perspective, the BSA should have called the police, but we're condemning BSA for not doing what the victim's own parents didn't do.

            Should Athens have allowed women to vote? Sure. Should the BSA have called the cops against the parents wishes? Sure. In reality, by blacklisting the guy BSA was already doing more than anyone else.

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            • #21
              There's plenty of blame to go around. In the comment section on the article, one woman wrote that she lived on the same street as this guy and all the kids knew something was going on in that house. One kid was even hired to clean the house and found lots of dirty photographs. The commenter said the neighborhood kids told their parents, but the parents did nothing either.

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              • #22
                Folks,

                Sometimes even today if you do report something wrong,but are not the victim, and the victim won't press charges, there is law enforcement can do. And if you read some of the Ineligible Volunteer Files, it is noted that parents, charter orgs, etc did not want to press charges. As others pointed out, focus was on different situations, and I know folks who were molested, but would not press charges because of embarrassment, social stigma, and fear to name a few emotions. Thankfully that has changed.

                And in some cases the law is still like that. One example would be domestic violence victims. Friends and family can report the perp, but unless the victim presses charges, nothing can be done.

                Another example is the case going on in my home town. Some folks witnessed an incident, but until the victim came forward, there was nothing the authorities could do.

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                • #23
                  One other interesting thing from looking at those old reports:

                  Those who argue for inclusion of homosexual men as Boy Scout adult leaders often claim that the real danger to boys in the Scouts is not from homosexuals, but from heterosexuals (presumably, heterosexual men who want to have sex with boys.) So the argument (which has been made repeatedly on this forum and others) is that bisexual men are the real danger to boys - superficially heterosexual men who are married and have children but secretly want to have sex with boys. (Although this tortured logic, and political correctness, means they can't use the term "bisexual," as they are the "B" in LGBT. ) Looking through those reports, there would seem to be instead a preponderance of single men without children among the ranks of molesters, as Chalmers was. Obviously, most single, childless adult leaders are clearly NOT molesters. But it would be reasonable to make the assumption that there are a larger number of homosexuals within that demographic, than there are among married (to a woman) men with children.

                  There is actually a lot of info in the reports worth mining for lessons learned - I don't know if anyone has done that other than internally within BSA headquarters for risk factors.

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                  • #24
                    I keep trying to match today's outrage with the good people who had those roles back then. So I keep trying to read and learn. A few curious things I read recently.

                    - In 1953, Alfred Kinsey wrote "it is difficult to understand why a child except for its cultural conditioning should be disturbed by having it's genitalia touched." ... A concept so ugly to us now was not a red flag back then. That really surprised me. ... in another words ... not everyone considered certain acts as child abuse ... Page 226 ... http://www.futureofchildren.org/futu...ication_detail .... This triggered memories of poet Allen Ginsberg and his early advocacy. Again stuff that is incredibly ugly given today's knowledge was advocated for by a respected public figure back then.

                    - "Child Abuse" of the 1970s was "The Battered Child Syndrome". I found some fleeting discussions of sexual abuse but that was about incest. Laws were about physical abuse and cruelty and mainly focused inward at the family. Discussions about when to take the child away from the parents, foster homes and adoption.

                    - "Child Abuse" of the 1970s and 1980s did not any references to pedophiles.

                    - Really surprising ... the legal definitions of child abuse often did not include showing the child pornography or taking pictures of naked children. Laws were amended to include that. (Really hard to find dates ... but from what I saw, I believe it was later in the 1980s or 1990s that laws were changed to include images). ... The nearest law I found was the 1988 Child Protection and Obscenity Act. It required having proof of ages for those taking pornographic images.

                    - Clergy were not mandatory reports until 2003 or later and was triggered by the Boston Catholic church articles that won a Pulitzer Prize for the Boston Globe.

                    - Time limits existed on mandatory reporting lawI found references to two years from the incident for some cases.


                    http://lawweb2009.law.villanova.edu/...rown_Final.pdf

                    1994... http://www.futureofchildren.org/futu...ication_detail


                    ==============================================

                    So I just re-read the complaint. Given today's knowledge, Challberg is a pedophile and a predator. Given today's law, how he would be charged. ... But with the laws of 1986, what could Challberg have been charged with?

                    Contributing to the delinquency of a minor? Providing beer and Bacardi to minors. Showing porn. (one reference in statement) ... I know many parents who let their own kids drink and parents who hosted let their kids have drinking parties.

                    From the accusation statement, it is pretty clear you could not charge him with rape or anything like that.
                    Last edited by fred johnson; 06-17-2014, 03:12 AM.

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                    • #25
                      Hm like I read earlier hind sight is 20 20. I am a little upset that the BSA did not release this records until there was a court order but at the same time I can understand that they might have been worried about privacy concerns for all parties involved it is harder to sew somebody when they are following a court order.

                      In the past organizations as a hole did not really know how to handle this sort of thing like the catholic church did in the past.
                      The one good think I hope comes out of this is now that Parents the BSA and CO will figure out how to handle this sort of thing and stop it early

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                      • #26
                        As scout leaders, we are entrusted with the care of other children. The standard of care that I give is the same that I give to my own kids. If I find scout leaders who cannot or will not share that standard, I have and will remove my scouts from their care.

                        File a police report. But why the police can't do anything (don't assume) , what law applies (let others help with that)? File the police report. The incident is officially described and recorded in a police report for future reference.

                        In 2002, Menton Berger, a former Arizona high school teacher, "was sentenced to 200 years in prison (without the possibility of probation, parole, or pardon) for the possession of 20 images of child pornography." This was the minimum sentence under Arizona law. A.R.S §13-3553 “Sexual Exploitation of a Minor”
                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton_Berger

                        Here's some hindsight, IMO the BSA missed an opportunity to advocate child protection laws in the past 50 years. Didn't happened, instead lock up the perversion files and certainly do not lobby for mandatory reporting or sensible statute of limitations that leadership came from others.

                        Another $0.02,
                        Last edited by RememberSchiff; 06-17-2014, 07:01 AM.

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                        • #27
                          One of the reasons the BSA didn't release the files earlier, is that they could be libel for anything in those files that is incorrect. My understanding of what is in those files ranges from police reports and first person accounts, all the way to newspaper clippings and rumors. If the BSA published those files and damaged someones reputation with bad information, they could get sued, and deservedly so.

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                          • #28
                            fred johnson brings up some good points about how society attitudes have changed. Look at attitudes toward bulling and hazing. I remember reading about how a century ago in English boarding schools, having the upperclassmen beat up the underclassmen was an officially sanctioned form of discipline. Or how about public nudity? It used to be that nudity among single-sex groups was no big deal (it depended on the context). In my high school locker room, public nudity was something you saw every day. Whether in the showers, changing next to the lockers or several hundred naked teenagers lined up for their health checks ("... now cough.") it was SOP. Today schools are installing individual shower stalls and changing alcoves. Boy scout troops used to go skinny dipping. Now days, nudity is assumed to be sexual. A troop going skinny dipping would not only be a complete YPT violation, but I wouldn't be surprised if such an incident generated criminal charges. I have talked with a parent that was convinced that nudity in school locker rooms was a form of sexual abuse ("there is no reason for them to be parading around like that! It shouldn't be allowed!").

                            That is one of the problems when applying today's standard to the past. There are things that today we "know to be true" that in the past would have been disagreed with. As others have pointed out, while not perfect, the BSA was ahead of the curve on this issue when compared to what other groups were doing.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by RememberSchiff View Post

                              Here's some hindsight, IMO the BSA missed an opportunity to advocate child protection laws in the past 50 years. Didn't happened, instead lock up the perversion files and certainly do not lobby for mandatory reporting or sensible statute of limitations that leadership came from others.

                              Another $0.02,
                              Worth more than that. That is a role the BSA should be assuming now, and should advocate for greater child-protection laws. There is still a lot that needs to be changed.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post
                                fred johnson brings up some good points about how society attitudes have changed. Look at attitudes toward bulling and hazing. I remember reading about how a century ago in English boarding schools, having the upperclassmen beat up the underclassmen was an officially sanctioned form of discipline. Or how about public nudity? It used to be that nudity among single-sex groups was no big deal (it depended on the context). In my high school locker room, public nudity was something you saw every day. Whether in the showers, changing next to the lockers or several hundred naked teenagers lined up for their health checks ("... now cough.") it was SOP. Today schools are installing individual shower stalls and changing alcoves. Boy scout troops used to go skinny dipping. Now days, nudity is assumed to be sexual. A troop going skinny dipping would not only be a complete YPT violation, but I wouldn't be surprised if such an incident generated criminal charges. I have talked with a parent that was convinced that nudity in school locker rooms was a form of sexual abuse ("there is no reason for them to be parading around like that! It shouldn't be allowed!").

                                That is one of the problems when applying today's standard to the past. There are things that today we "know to be true" that in the past would have been disagreed with. As others have pointed out, while not perfect, the BSA was ahead of the curve on this issue when compared to what other groups were doing.
                                Very true. The Boy's Club in my neighborhood when I was a kid required boys to swim in the nude, no bathing suits were allowed. My friend wanted me to come with him and check it out, but when I heard that, I wanted no part of it. It still seems creepy to me, but that was a common practice in that era (and still was, until fairly recently in some places in men-only clubs - the Harvard Athletic Club had the same requirement in its (adult) pool facility, and used that as one of its arguments why women should not be allowed in when it was taken to court - leading Dick Cavett to suggest they rename it the "Harvard Athletic and Nude Male Swimming Society."

                                The YMCA also enforced a no-bathing-suits rule for males, and an article on the subject noted that the American Public Health Association mandated the rule from 1926 until 1962, and thousands of American high schools had the same rule.

                                At the time, it was said to be more hygienic, or something. I never understood why it would be promoted by anyone other than pederasts, but apparently it was because the old bathing suits were made with wool up until the 1920s, and wool fibers would clog up the pool filtration system, and because life guards were supposed to conduct a visual hygiene check of all swimmers, and make sure no one with open wounds or signs of an STD got into the pool. It was also suggested that swimming nude would build character, in some unexplainable way.

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