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Boy Scouts have investigated 24 sex abuse cases in W.Va., database shows

National files released

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Boy Scouts of America officials permitted two West Virginia scout leaders to resign without facing criminal charges after multiple allegations of sexual abuse involving young boys, according to files released Thursday.

About 14,500 pages of secret "perversion files" were released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court that detail more than 5,000 men and a handful of women who were expelled from the Scouts between 1947 and January 2005 on suspicion of sexual abuse.

The Boy Scouts tracked 24 suspected sexual abuse cases in West Virginia from 1964 to 2003, according to a database compiled by the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper published names and files associated with three of the West Virginia cases. The remaining 21 individual cases do not have files available and are only identified by a unique ID number, city and associated troop unit.

Royce Lee Adkins, district training chairman in Huntington, was accused of sex abuse on three boys in November 1971.

The file contains signed statements from the boys who said Adkins touched them inappropriately while they were sleeping at Camp Arrowhead in Barboursville. Adkins allegedly continued to sexually assault the boys after they asked him to stop.

Adkins was permitted to resign from the Scouts, citing personal reasons, according to a letter between Paul Ernst, supervisor of Scout membership who handled multiple West Virginia cases, and Byron McNeely, Scout executive of Tri-State Area Council in Huntington.

Ernst thanked McNeely for reporting the boys' allegations and said Adkins' name would be scrubbed from Scout records for "homosexual activity."

"You handled the entire situation very well and we thank you for a job well done," Ernst wrote to McNeely.

Six boys reported similar allegations in 1972 against John Franklin Gower, Scoutmaster of Troop 82 in Glendale.

According to the LA Times' file, Scout officials were alerted when six boys alleged that an unknown man entered their tent on July 1, 1972, and touched them inappropriately. The letter said the man covered the boys' eyes or shined a flashlight to conceal his identity.

A letter between Ernst and John E. Richmond, Scout executive of the National Trial Council, identified Gower as the unknown male suspect.

Ernst wrote that two local camp directors found Gower performing oral sex on a young boy inside a tent on July 17, 1972, according to the letter.

Gower allegedly fled when the directors shined a flashlight at him.

Wayne Julian, former Scout executive of the National Trial Council, who was on vacation in Wheeling at the time, was sent to investigate, according to the letter. Julian met with Gower, who was "belligerent and when he was presented with the facts, he cried."

Julian told Gower to either resign immediately and seek psychiatric help or be reported to local authorities, according to the letter.

Gower submitted his resignation and wrote a letter to parents later that week.

"It took me about one month after signing on as Scoutmaster of Troop 82 to realize I'd made a big mistake," he wrote. "[There's] just too many boys for me to handle, even with the two good assistants. And the situation has been compounded by other factors."

A third file details the organization's efforts to track the resignation and arrest of Arthur Don Margulies, formerly a Scout assistant of Troop 101 in Sutton in 1972. In a 1985 letter, Ernst writes that Margulies was allowed to re-register in the scouts after previously being accused of sexual abuse.

Margulies eventually pleaded guilty in a Cumberland, Md., criminal court to 10 counts of second-degree sexual abuse involving four boys in 1980.

"I do not know how he slipped through our system ...," Ernst wrote.

Ernst also wrote that he hoped "we do not have any other problems of this type" that exist but wanted to be careful that "individuals do get checked each time they attempt registration."

The organization investigated 21 other sexual abuse cases around the state that are only identified by ID number and troop association, according to the LA Times:

 

  • Buckhannon: one suspect involved with Troop 128 in 1993.
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  • Clarksburg: one suspect involved with Troop 12 in 1969.
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  • Fayetteville: one suspect involved with Troop 2011 in 2003.
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  • Franklin: one suspect involved with Troop 162 in 1994.
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  • Huntington: one suspect involved with troops 5, 8 and 13 in 1964; one suspect involved with troops 14 and 99 in 1985; and one suspect involved with Troop 20 in 1992.
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  • Jolo: one suspect involved in three cases with Troop 189 in 1998.
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  • Martinsburg: one suspect involved with troops 161 and 58 in 1985; one suspect involved with Troop 58 in 1989; and one suspect involved with Troop 54 in 1994.
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  • New Manchester: one suspect involved with Troop 137 in 1987.
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  • New Martinsville: two suspects involved with Troop 128 in 2002.
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  • Parkersburg: one suspect involved with troops 2016 and 2017 in 1993-94.
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  • Rivesville: one suspect involved with Troop 31 in 1999.
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  • South Charleston: one suspect involved with Troop 195 in 1989.
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  • St. Albans: one suspect involved with Troop 75 in 1999.
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  • Weirton: one suspect involved with Troop 67 in 1991.
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  • Williamstown: one suspect involved with Troop 215 in 1988.
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    The database also referred to one suspect involved with Troop 262 in "Pleasant" in 1997, but it was not immediately clear which county that troop is in, as Pleasant is not listed among West Virginia towns.  

    Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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