ELYRIA — Several people affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America in Lorain County were blacklisted by the Scouts in the organization’s secret “perversion files,” including an Elyria Cub Scout leader who sexually molested boys in his Webelo troop and showed them pornography at his Amherst home in the 1980s.
The files, 14,500 pages of which were released by an Oregon attorney on Thursday, stretch back to shortly after the Boy Scouts were founded in 1910 and were intended to monitor child molesters and others deemed morally unsuitable within the ranks of the adults involved in Scouting.
In some cases, the molesters were kicked out of the Scouts and reported to the authorities, while in other instances, the individuals accused of inappropriate behavior were shielded by the organization, according to extensive reviews conducted by The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets.
The files released Thursday were collected between 1959 and 1985, with a handful of others from later years. Some have been released previously, but others have been made public for the first time.
A list of the some of the files posted on the Times’ website included several instances that connected back to Scout troops in Lorain County. Others were mentioned in other databases of the “perversion files,” including those released Thursday.
The most extensive Lorain County file on the Times’ website deals with Curtis Whiton, who was added to the “perversion files” in October 1983.
According to his file, in July 1983 a Scout leader overheard some of his Scouts discussing Whiton showing pornographic movies to his den members. After talking to the Scouts, the leader then reported it to District Commissioner Vincent Farrell, who discussed it with other Scouting leaders.
Farrell then confronted Whiton at a Boy Scout camp and asked him to resign. Farrell wrote that Whiton didn’t want to sign the resignation letters provided for him, noting that if he did he’d be out of Scouting for good.
“He hemmed and hawed for an awful long time, he claimed that some of the Scouts didn’t like him and were spreading stories, ditto for the webelos,” Farrell wrote. “Told him that at this point it really didn’t matter (whether) it was true or not because he had lost his effectiveness as a Scout leader (and) that it would be best for the BSA if he just quietly resigned.” Whiton ultimately resigned, although the letter he signed indicated he was stepping down for “personal reasons.” A day after Whiton resigned, another Scout leader shared the resignation letter with a mother who had come to pick up her son, the file said.
“Apparently on the way home, she questioned her son regarding what had been stated at camp; and apparently at that time the whole story began to unravel,” the file said.
The woman and another mother went to Elyria police and reported Whiton, according to the file.
The file contained no mention that the Boy Scouts ever contacted police about Whiton, although it noted that the Scouts were unaware that he was being investigated for other allegations.
Farrell wrote that he later learned even more about what had been going on in Whiton’s apartment, although he didn’t go into detail because he found out about it after Whiton resigned.
“I would however like to state that there appears to me no doubt as to the fact that we (the Boy Scouts of America) handled this affair in an appropriate manner,” Farrell wrote.
Whiton ultimately plea bargained the charges against him down to guilty pleas on eight counts of rape and was sentenced to six to nine years in prison, Scout Executive Gary Lehman wrote to the Boy Scouts’ national office in February 1984.
“While all the other charges brought against him were valid, it would have meant a change of venue, a traumatic experience for the boys to appear on the witness stand, and apparently some of the evidence might have been questionable,” Lehman wrote.
The files released Thursday contained a report on then-Elyria High School teacher and Scout explorer adviser Joseph Glick, who was added to the “perversion files” in May 1962 after his name surfaced during an Elyria police investigation into a “gay party.”
Although the April 26, 1962, police report, which listed contributing to the delinquency of minors as the offense being investigated, didn’t describe the allegations against Glick, it stated that the mother of the boy involved gave her permission for the matter to be handled through the school district.
Glick was called into a meeting at the school and admitted that the accusation against him was true, according to the file. He was asked to resign and agreed to do so and leave Elyria.
Another case mentioned in another online database was that of Kenneth Ditzler, who was convicted of performing oral sex on a teenage boy during a camping trip to Findley State Park in 1999 that included pornography and alcohol. He had been added to the Scout’s confidential list in 1990, but the court documents didn’t specify whether the camping trip he was on was a Scouting event.
According to a 9th District Court of Appeals decision upholding Ditzler’s conviction, he molested other boys in the 1980s, including one who testified during his trial that Ditzler had plied him with alcohol and pornography on Boy Scout trips before taking advantage of him sexually.
An online summary of Ditzler’s file indicated that “In 1990 it came out that he had had sexual relations with teenagers and other youths in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In 1990, he also had a boy stay the night in his bed.” Two other Lorain men were detailed in the files as well.
James Bodak resigned from Scouting in October 1972 after local officials noticed articles in the newspaper about him being charged with felonious assault and pleading guilty to enticing a minor. Lorain police reports from the time indicated he had shown pornography to a boy and then masturbated with him.
David Sherrard was asked to resign in August 1985 from his role as an assistant scoutmaster after pleading guilty to sexual battery for having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl who had told police Sherrard raped her on a weekly basis for months, according to newspaper accounts and court documents from the time.
The Los Angeles Times’ online database mentioned other people in Avon Lake in 1992, Lorain in 1996 and Avon in 2004 who were placed in the “perversion files,” but their names and the details of what they were accused of doing weren’t available.
At a news conference Thursday, Portland attorney Kelly Clark blasted the Boy Scouts for their continuing legal battles to try to keep the full trove of files secret.
“You do not keep secrets hidden about dangers to children,” said Clark, who in 2010 won a landmark lawsuit against the Boy Scouts on behalf of a plaintiff who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.
In a statement on Thursday, Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said, “There is nothing more important than the safety of our Scouts.” Smith said there have been times when Scouts’ responses to sex abuse allegations were “plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong” and the organization extends its “deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.