CAPE MAY, N.J. (Christian Examiner) – On the same day the Boy Scouts of America lifted its long-time ban on homosexual adult leaders (July 27), a New Jersey Scout leader was charged with sexually assaulting a child under his care and preparing another for the same.
According to WPVI TV, the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia, police arrested Assistant Scoutmaster Frank "Sandy" Thomson on Monday. The 68-year-old was charged with aggravated sexual contact, luring/enticing a child, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
The prosecutor in the case claimed in a statement that Thomson was "grooming" an 11-year-old body for sex by deepening their relationship with expensive gifts. Thomson reportedly did the same thing with another boy several years ago.
The first charge against Thomson came on the same day the BSA formally adopted a resolution lifting its ban on gay adult leaders. Critics of the policy have claimed it creates much greater risk for adult workers to take advantage of the youth under their care.
Under the new policy, chartered troops are allowed to select leaders whose values align with their own – even if the leader is homosexual. Religiously chartered organizations, however, are still allowed under BSA policy to exclude homosexuals from leadership.
In August 2010, following concerns about boys being exposed to adult leaders who were sexual predators, the BSA appointed new leadership for its Youth Protection Program. Now, the BSA has a five point plan – with background checks and charter organization reference checks – for ensuring adult leaders and volunteers are not a threat to youth in the scouting program.
But the program does not always work, as Thomson's arrest shows. Police now say the investigation into Thomson's past activities is open and those with information should come forward.
Ironically, sexual abuse on the part of some Boy Scout leaders was already in the news.
In April, the Boy Scouts in Sacramento, Calif., were sued after an adult Scoutmaster was discovered to have sexually assaulted an Eagle Scout, who was a minor at the time.
In that case, the Scout – named only as John Doe – said he was "led into developing a relationship during which I was molested and raped."
"My point today is to make a message ... that it's OK to come forward. It's not easy. It's a terrible experience, but unless you say something, it will never get better."
Less than one month later, an 18-year-old North Carolina Boy Scout volunteer was arrested and charged with the sexual abuse of two pre-teen boys during a Boy Scouts camping trip.
On June 23, the Pioneer Press in Minneapolis-St. Paul reported that Jim McDonough, chair of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, was suing the BSA and the Northern Star Council, claiming he had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Scoutmasters when he was young.
On July 9, two Minnesota men – both of whom were Scouts in the late 1960s and early 1970s – sued the BSA and the local troop they once belonged to for sexual abuse they once suffered at the hands of adult Scout leaders.
According to Minnesota Public Radio, David Lundquist, of Woodbury, Minn., and Steven Josephson, of Fridley, Minn., claim they were sexually abused by their Scoutmasters while they were members of different St. Paul-based troops. In a response to the suit, the local Boy Scout troop to which the men belonged several decades ago said it removed the men when their behavior was discovered.
Five days later, another former Scout, who was not identified in his complaint against the BSA, also sued the organization for their failure to prevent sexual abuse while he was a Scout over 45 years ago.
If the decision of a Connecticut court is any forecast, the BSA could be forced to address multiple lawsuits in the future. In that case, where the sexual abuse occurred in the 1970s, the judge ordered the BSA to pay $7 million to the victims of a Scoutmaster's sexual abuse.
Also on July 30, a case against another New Jersey Scout leader that had been stalled in the courts resumed. Police in that case claim Stephen Corcoran, a former Scout leader, abused multiple boys at his home and on camping trips. Corcoran also reportedly possessed child pornography, the discovery of which prompted the case against him in 2011.
At least five lawsuits have been filed by former members of scouting troops sponsored by the Mormon Church, alleging sexual abuse by Scoutmaster Vance Hein. And in January 2015, the Associated Press reported that attorneys representing a Scout who sued over allegations of sexual abuse in a Santa Barbara, Calif., troop, claimed the BSA has as many as 100,000 pages of documentation about sexual abuse at the hands of Scout leaders dating back to the 1920s.
Though not in America, the Winnipeg Free Press reported July 28 that a Scout leader with Scouts Canada had been charged with repeatedly abusing a Winnipeg teenager in his troop.