Ten Houston Men Named (So Far) in Boy Scouts "Perversion Files"
Since 1919 the Boy Scouts of America has maintained a database of "ineligible volunteers." Known informally as "the perversion files," the database contains the names of 5,000 men and a few women who have been expelled from the BSA because of allegations of sexual abuse of children.
Last week a group of Oregon attorneys released several thousand of the confidential documents. The attorneys obtained the documents in the course of an $18.5 million suit they won on behalf of an abused Oregon boy, and they are currently suing the organization here in Texas. (The Boy Scouts' national HQ is in Irving.)
Over 1,000 ineligible volunteers were named in the documents that were released last week. More than ten of them were Houston-area men, and the allegations spanned the years 1960 to 1985. Documents pertaining to more than 30 other Houston cases are listed as "pending" or "not available." The victims' names are redacted in all of the files. (The LA Times has an excellent database here.)
The reports make for truly disturbing reading.
The earliest case in the Houston files comes from 1960. A letter written by a deputy scout executive states that the then 23-year-old Scoutmaster of Troop 649 signed a written confession admitting to sodomizing a 12-year-old boy and turned it over to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. The letter also states that the scoutmaster admitted that ten other boys "had been used for sodomy at different times." A cop told the author of the letter (whose name is illegible) that it was the worst such case he had ever seen. The man, who we are not naming because we can find no record that he was ever formally charged with a crime, had been a fourth grade teacher. He volunteered to enter a mental institution if the court would permit it and seems to have stayed out of trouble after that. He passed away two years ago after a successful second career in the automotive supplies trade.
Two cases from 1961 made the files. In one, a 31-year-old Oak Forest man affiliated with Troop 244 and Explorer group 604 was accused of fondling a ten-year-old boy practically under the noses of the boy's parents. (He had been lifelong friends with the boy's father. Again, we are not naming him because there is no record of charges.) In the second case, an anonymous letter written by the father of a victim sparked an investigation into a former Eagle Scout who was then helping run Troop 277 in the same district as the Oak Forest man. Karl Schreiner, the District Scout Executive, states that the man confessed to several "immoral acts with boys" and had started seeing a psychiatrist. Schreiner wrote that he did not know if the psychiatrist could help the accused man "with his problem."
In April of 1963, a 23-year-old man signed on as Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 925. According to a letter written by one of his superiors, "Almost immediately he began the use of divisive influences against the then Scoutmaster and his assistants and some very questionable conduct with certain of the Scouts of the troop." The man was dismissed from Troop 925, but was simultaneously involved with Troop 720, where he managed to become Scoutmaster. Once more, the man reportedly used "divisive influences" and committed "certain irregularities with boys of the troop." These included taking the boys out overnight with no other adults around and taking them on impromptu trips. "The culmination came in April 1964 when [redacted] carried two of the boys on a midnight trip to Texas City," the letter states. "According to the boys, [redacted] made sexual advances to them, told sexual and obsene [sic] stories and made threats against them if they should tell." The boys ignored the threats and told their principal the next day. The principal contacted the Scouts brass, who immediately asked for and received the man's resignation.
In 1967, Julio Henry Silva, Troop 874's Assistant Scoutmaster, was indicted by a Fort Bend County grand jury after two boys came forth and accused him of molesting them. One boy said Silva molested him after taking him into his bedroom, ostensibly to show him his merit badges, and the other boy said he was molested in Silva's tent while at Camp Strake. Silva was terminated from the Scouts. The disposition of his case is not in Fort Bend County's online records, but the indictment and the victims' affidavits are in his file.
Leland Ward Schneider, a statistician with Allied Chemical Company, was the leader of Troop 219 and and adviser to Troop 210. He was fired from both of those posts after a Houston Police report was filed detailing "fondling and other unnatural acts" committed with some of the Scouts. He later tried to get back into scouting, but was rejected. Schneider died in 1980 at age 51.
In 1978, married hairstylist and Troop 748 Scoutmaster Thomas H. Sartor was sent to prison for ten years after his conviction for anally raping two boys. According to news clippings in his file, Sartor bought one boy's silence for $1 and gave the other one merit badges "he could not get on his own."
That same year, a 32-year-old IRS tax examiner was fired for some sort of sexual misconduct. (The letter detailing the incident is too faint to read.) The man was affiliated with Troops in Austin and Houston.
In 1983, Spring's Donald Eugene Williams was given ten years probation in Judge Pat Lykos's court after he was convicted of three counts of indecency with a child. Seven years in, Williams violated his probation and was sentenced to seven years in prison. An old news clipping in the file reveals a gross detail: Williams used the application of calamine lotion to an itchy scout as a pretext to fondle him. In other instances, he used the old merit badge trick.
A 1984 file documents the Boy Scouts' search for a man believed to have molested boys in both Alaska and California. They believed he was in Houston, and the file chronicles their search for documents they could use to back up a planned rejection of his application. Those documents are not in the file.
In 1985, 44-year-old James Larry Scott was sentenced to 18 years in prison after his conviction for the aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy. According to a Houston Post article in the file, Scott gave the boy a copy of Playboy and then performed oral sex on him, and went on to molest him 19 more times over the course of the next few months. At the trial, three other victims spoke out against Scott, who at that point had been running a Clear Lake-area troop for 14 years. One of Scott's victims later won an $81,000 judgment against the Boy Scouts and the church that housed the troop. It was argued that both were negligent in allowing Scott to run the troop for so long -- rumors had been swirling about his appetites for years.
Thirteen more files from the years 1988 to 1992 are listed as "pending" in the database.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.
- Cougars Easily Dismantle Navy, Win 52-31
- Legendary UH Coach Guy V. Lewis Dies at Age 93
- Saints-Texans — Four Things to Watch For