A former Boy Scout leader has been charged with sodomizing a boy in his troop who was under the age of 13.
News of the indictment Monday by a grand jury in Charlottesville, Va., comes as the Boy Scouts of America faces a vote tomorrow by its executive board that could reverse the iconic organization’s century-old policy of barring homosexuals from its ranks.
David Watkins, 49, was arrested Nov. 28 in Charlottesville, Va., where he works as CEO of Watkins Computer Services. Watkins founded Keswick Troop 1028 in 2002 and was its scoutmaster until 2008.
The abuse took place in 2005, according to court documents, but the victim, now an adult, waited several years before coming forward, reported WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, Va.
The BSA’s national executive board is expected to vote tomorrow on a proposal that would allow local Scouting organizations to form their own membership rules regarding homosexuals. WND reported yesterday that many Scout leaders, from the national organization to the troop level, have said they will resign if the proposal passes.
As WND reported last week, a major drop in corporate funding came last September after a gay-rights blogger for the Huffington Post published a collaborative report that named the donors and chastised them for violating their own policy of not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
At a Nov. 28 press conference announcing the arrest of Watkins, Albemarle County police said they believed there could be other victims.
“We have received multiple phone calls on the tip line, and now we’re looking into those calls and the information provided,” said Carter Johnson, the public information officer for Albemarle County police department.
The alleged victim, under age 13 at the time of the assault but now an adult, came forward the day before Thanksgiving, police said, according to C-ville.com, a Charlottesville news website.
The BSA’s Stonewall Jackson Area Council released a prepared statement after the arrest.
“The abuse of anyone, especially a child, is intolerable and our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who may be a victim of this type of behavior,” the statement said. ‘The behavior included in these allegations runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands.”
C-ville.com reported the council permanently suspended Watkins from Scouting in June because of allegations of inappropriate behavior outside of the Scouting program.
Charlottesville Police Department didn’t find enough evidence to arrest Watkins, but BSA added Watkins to its Ineligible Volunteer files and banned him from the organization.
In 2010, a former Boy Scout in Portland, Ore., was awarded $18.5 million by a jury 30 years after he claimed he was abused by an assistant scoutmaster.
Timur Dykes confessed to a bishop from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he had molested Lewis and 16 other scouts, including Lewis. Dykes later was convicted and spent time in prison.
Attorneys for Lewis’ attorneys charged the Boy Scouts organization with recklessness for allowing Dykes to continue working with young scouts.
Kelly Clark, the attorney who represented Lewis and 22 other accusers, released October on the Internet secret records kept by the scouts dubbed the “perversion files.” More than 14,000 pages of allegations over 20 years ranged from indecent exposure to “suspected immoral relations with juveniles.”
More than 1,200 leaders and volunteers were named in the files, and most were expelled after their placement in an Ineligible Volunteer list.
Others slipped back in, however, Clark said at an October press conference announcing the release of the files on his website.
“The problem wasn’t that [the Scouts] weren’t trying to keep the bad guys out. They were,” Clark said. “But you can’t just keep a list. At some point you have an obligation to read what’s going on, and say, ‘What we’re doing isn’t working.’”
Steve Elwart, a 30-year veteran of Scouting, who once served as an area overseer of the youth protection program in the Scouts’ Southern Region, told WND the organization, in response to abuse, has developed a model system to protect Scouts.
Leaders, for example, are no longer allowed to meet alone with a Scout.
For that reason, unlike many, his primary concern is not that pedophiles will infiltrate the organization if the policy is changed.
Calling that issue a “red herring,” his concern is more fundamental.
“Homosexuality is not a value I want to see imparted on my children,” he said. “And a lot of parents feel the same way, that homosexuality is not OK.”