In early 1977, allegations about an assistant scoutmaster having sex with boys rocked the old St. Joseph’s Church in Haverhill, then home for Boy Scout Troop 27.
Stories grew rampant about the 27-year-old scout leader inviting boys to stay overnight at his home, where indecent exposure and fondling were common. One boy accused the troop leader of performing “an unnatural act” on him.
A father who was on the troop committee consulted with a lawyer and the police for assistance after reporting that his son was a victim of sexual abuse by an adult leader “who should not be allowed to stay in scouting.”
But despite the controversy, police never prosecuted the assistant scoutmaster for the alleged sexual crimes. Neither he nor the Boy Scouts were named as defendants in any lawsuits.
When confronted by the chairman of the troop committee, the man refused to meet with the committee to discuss the allegations, resigned abruptly and moved out of the city within a month.
“It was decided by the Troop Committee, with the support of the parents of the boys that were involved, and the Pastor of the Church that no legal action take place,” the troop committee member wrote in a letter to the national office of the Boy Scouts of America more than a year later.
“Lone Tree Council was advised of the problem from the beginning but was asked to stay out because the Committee felt it was their problem. The Committee did ask and continues to ask the Lone Tree Council and the Boy Scouts of America to be aware of these facts,” he wrote.
Though never criminally charged, the former Haverhill scout leader was barred from further participation in scouting. The Boy Scouts denied his application to be a scoutmaster in Rochester, N.Y., four years later because his name had been placed in scouting’s ineligible volunteer files – essentially a confidential blacklist created more than 80 years ago to protect scouts from known or suspected abusers.