The Boy Scouts of America has been accused of covering up the abuses of Rick Turley, a paedophile who was repeatedly allowed back as a leader despite admitting to abusing boys in his care.
Police has recently released documents showing that Boy Scouts of America officials didn’t call authorities after Rick Turley admitted molesting three boys and welcomed him back as a leader even after he kidnapped a boy in a stolen plane.
Rick Turley, now 58, said he is surprised at how many times he got away with it.
An investigation has found that Rick Turley molested at least 15 children in Southern California and British Columbia over 20 years, most of whom he met through American and Canadian Scouting.
“It was easy,” Rick Turley told CBC News.
Rick Turley said that he thinks if the police had been called in 1979 when he confessed to abusing three boys it “probably would have put a stop to me years and years ago”.
Instead, Rick Turley “went back to the Scouts again and again as a leader and offended against the boys,” he told CBC News.
Rick Turley is one of more than 5,000 suspected child molesters named in confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America.
Boy Scouts of America had long recommended that troops kept abuse allegations a secret.
In Rick Turley’s earlier known sexual abuse in 1971, he met Joey Day, a 10-year-old boy while working as a truck driver on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Rick Turley offered to take Joey Day to cubs, but instead took him to a nearby lake where he coerced him into skinny dipping and molested him.
Over the next two years, instead of taking the boy to cub meetings, Rick Turley took him to his apartment where he plied the boy alcohol, showed him pornography and abused him.
When Joey Day tried to tell his father about the abuse, he was beaten.
In January 1975, Rick Turley visited a Scout troop in Orange County and asked Eddy Iris, an 11-year-old boy, if he could show him around, saying he was one of Canada’s top Scout leaders.
Rick Turley shared a sleeping bag with Eddy Iris in the mountains, before taking him to the airport where he stole a plane and after taking off reportedly told the boy: “You do realize you’ve been kidnapped, don’t you?”
When the plane ran out of fuel and made an emergency landing, Rick Turley was arrested and pleaded guilty to child stealing.
Rick Turley was committed to Patton State Hospital as a “mentally disordered sex offender”.
He was released after 18 months on probation and ordered to return to Canada, but he instead got a job at a Boy Scout camp close to the hospital and worked at camps in San Bernardino and San Diego counties for the next three summer.
By 1978, Rick Turley had become a programme director at a Scout Camp in San Diego County. He persuaded the leader of a troop to let his son and two other boys stay at the camp for an extra night.
When they went home they reported that they had been arrested. Rick Turley admitted the offences but officials decided not to report them to police.
Buford Hill, a former Orange County Scouting official told the LA Times:
“We were following exactly the national recommendations of the Boy Scouts of America and its board who set up the rules.”
“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.”
Rick Turley returned to British Columbia where he became a Scout Master again.
At least two Canadian Scout leaders reported that Rick Turley had boys share his tent on trips.
In the mid 1980s, Boy Scouts officials decided rather than calling police or forcing Rick Turley to step down that he should be transferred to another troop.
In 1995, Rick Turley was arrested when his girlfriend told police that he was sexually attracted to children.
Rick Turley was sentenced to 7 years in prison, reduced to 5 on appeal, after he was convicted of five counts of molesting children.
In 2000, while out on parole Rick Turley was caught trying to coerce two boys into a relationship and was sent back to prison for two years.
Rick Turley now says that he is able to control his behaviour.
When questioned by CBC News at a motel in Alberta where Rick Turley now works he said that “it’s hard to put a number” on how many boys he abused.
Asked if he had a son, would he send him to Scouts, Turley said: “No, it’s still going on and will probably always go on.”
A Boy Scouts of America spokesman told the LA Times: “The BSA has continued to enhance its youth protection efforts as society has increased its understanding of the dangers children face.”