The number one goal of any program that benefits, or provides services to, children should be to prevent harm. This protection reveals itself in providing safe premises, transportation, and making sure employees and volunteers will not do anything to harm a child. This goal is now being aggressively enforced, but that hasn’t always been the case.
While it is clear that the Boy Scouts take this responsibility seriously today, questions remain of their treatment of past cases of abuse and molestation. Over the past decade, former leaders in seven countries have been convicted of assault, sexual abuse, rape, indecent assault, molestation, and various other charges. Horror stories have been told by former Scouts who were as young as seven when they were assaulted.
Rick Turley was such a leader, and spent over twenty years molesting children he met through the Boy Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of Canada programs in British Columbia and Southern California. And while the Boy Scouts did remove him from leadership positions each time a complaint was made, information about molestation allegations was not shared between programs and was never reported to the police.
Over nearly two decades, Turley molested at least 15 children in Southern California and British Columbia, most of whom he met through American and Canadian Scouting, a Los Angeles Times and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. investigation has found.
Scouting officials on both sides of the border not only failed to stop him, but sometimes helped cover his tracks, according to confidential Scouting records, court files and interviews with victims, families and Scout leaders.
At one point in 1979, Boy Scouts of America officials decided not to call police after Turley admitted molesting three Orange County boys, the organization’s records show.
“We were following exactly the national recommendations of the Boy Scouts of America and its board who set up the rules,” said A. Buford Hill Jr., a former Orange County Scouting executive, in a recent interview. “You do not want to broadcast to the entire population that these things happen. You take care of it quietly and make sure it never happens again.”
But it did.
Turley returned to British Columbia, signed on with Scouts Canada, which is separate from its U.S. counterpart, and continued his abuses for at least a decade.
Turley, now 58, is still surprised at how often he got away with it.
“It was easy,” he said in an interview this month at the Alberta truck-stop motel where he now works.
Turley is one of more than 5,000 suspected child molesters named in confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America. The documents — called the “perversion files” by the organization — include unsubstantiated tips as well as admissions of guilt.
Those records have surfaced in recent years in lawsuits by former Scouts, accusing the group of failing to exclude known pedophiles, detect abuses or turn in offenders to the police.
The Oregon Supreme Court is now weighing a request by newspapers, a wire service and broadcasters to open about 1,200 more files in the wake of a nearly $20-million judgment in a Portland sex abuse case last year. [Source]
Particularly saddening is the story of Joey Day, Turley’s first victim in 1971, who was beaten by his father after telling him about being raped by Turley. Police were not notified of the abuse until over twenty years later. He lured Joey’s mother into trusting him by appearing on her doorstop in a Boy Scouts uniform and offering to take Joey to Cub Scout meetings.
Turley’s earliest known molestation was in 1971, when he was working as a truck driver and was a Canadian Cub Scout leader, according to records in a Canadian criminal case 25 years later. He met Joey Day during a delivery on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and soon showed up at the Days’ home in his uniform.
“He offered to take Joey into Cubs, and being a Cub master, I mean, who wouldn’t you trust?” Day’s mother, Eileen, testified in the criminal case against Turley in 1996.
Turley got permission to take the 10-year-old to a nearby lake, where he talked him into skinny-dipping and then molested him. This is what men do for other men, Turley told him, just don’t tell your parents, Joey testified in the case.
Over the next two years, instead of taking Joey to Cub meetings, Turley took him to his apartment, where he gave him alcohol, showed him pornography and abused him. On his final visit, Turley raped him, court records state. [Source]
Joey tried to tell his father of the abuse, but he reacted by beating him. More than two decades would pass before police learned of Turley’s abuse. [Source]
The Boy Scouts worldwide have been rocked by sex abuse claims and lawsuits since the 1990’s. The award of $20 million in the Oregon case is the largest to date judgement against the BSA program. Unfortunately, Turley, and other abusers, have escaped consequences because of lack of assets and statutes of limitations, another burden to bear for victims who can and have experienced a lifetime of physical and mental issues as a result of the abuse.