Inside the 'Perversion Files' of the Illinois Boy Scouts
Scouts were stripped naked and rubbed with ice cubes, forced to have oral sex with their troop leaders and molested on camping trips. These and other sex crimes are detailed in files the Boy Scouts of America kept secret for decades.
What do an elementary schoolteacher, a voodoo cultist, a shipping clerk and a prison guard have in common?
Each has a "perversion file" kept by the Boy Scouts of America in secret records that detail decades of sex abuse allegations.
Almost 300 cases involving men and Boy Scout troops throughout Illinois are among the 1,200 secret Boy Scout files released last week by order of the Oregon Supreme Court.
In Illinois, the files date to the 1960s and extend through the ensuing five decades. The Boy Scouts of America used these records to prevent blackballed Scout leaders from returning to the organization with other troops. The files are filled with correspondence between the leadership of the Scouts and troop leaders, interviews with Scouts and parents, as well as newspaper clippings about arrest reports and molestation trials.
Information in the files was used against the Boy Scouts in a 2010 lawsuit alleging six Scouts were molested by a Scout Master in the 1980s. The Oregon firm representing the six Scouts in the lawsuit fought for the release of the secret “perversion files” and ultimately won a $20 million judgment. The records were submitted to the court under seal as evidence in the lawsuit, but Oregon’s high court ordered the files to be opened to the public.
These records were so secret even some Boy Scout leaders didn't know they existed. The files have been posted to the web in recent days. The names of volunteers expelled by the Boy Scouts are included in many but not all of the files, and victims’ names have been redacted.
Wayne Perry, the national president of the Boy Scouts of America, released the following statement: “There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.”
Who were those victims and families?
In Joliet, the boys of Troop 239 fell victim to a prison guard during a camping trip. In Bensenville, the boys in Troop 444 were forced to strip naked for their troop leader so he could rub ice cubes on their bodies. In Oak Lawn, the Scout leader for Troop 1600 forced his boys to endure oral sex. A boy from Troop 294 in Chicago was sexually assaulted three times during a single trip to a Naperville campground.
These are just four cases in the hundreds of Illinois files involving troops in Batavia, Chicago Heights, Downers Grove, Forest Park, Frankfort, Joliet, Naperville, Oak Lawn, Plainfield, St. Charles, Wheaton and dozens of other Illinois communities.
While expelling suspected sexual predators from its ranks, the Boy Scouts also kept the abuse under wraps and failed to report some Scout leaders to the authorities. Several letters in the files reveal Scout leadership's expressed intent to keep the reported sex crimes "confidential."
No longer confidential, here is a glimpse into the Boy Scouts of America "perversion files." Patch will continue to report on all Chicago-area files as they are opened to the public.
JOLIET, CUB PACK 239 AND SCOUT TROOP 239
In 1970, Patrick Farrell was a 40-year-old state prison guard, a Cubmaster with Cub Pack 239 and assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 239. A year into his duty with the Scouts, allegations arose that he molested boys in his care. But three months after Farrell quit the Scouts, the BSA was reluctant to blacklist him, according to his file.
Earl L. Krall, a director with the Boy Scouts, sent a Jan. 28, 1971, letter to Rainbow Council Scout Executive Alfred I. Gardner asking for “some concrete evidence of his antisocial behavior.” Two months later, Krall got his concrete evidence in the form of a newspaper clipping recounting Farrell’s conviction for “'taking indecent liberties' with two boys at a LaSalle County campground.”
The newspaper clip in the file states that Farrell was sentenced to two years in prison.
“This is precisely the type of information we need for our file,” Boy Scouts Registration and Membership Supervisor Paul Ernst wrote of the clipping in April 1971, noting that such information “should help us in the future, should this individual ever again attempt to register in the scouting program."
BENSENVILLE, SCOUT TROOP 444
In Bensenville, the boys of Bensenville Moose Lodge Boy Scout Troop 444 were told they needed to get naked as part of their initiation into the Scouts. In this file, signed testimony from several Scouts details how an Elmhurst man, in his 20s at the time told the boys to lie down naked while the Scout leader rubbed ice on them.
"Initiation consisted of me taking down my pants and off my shirt in front of the other boys, who told me he also did it to them," one 14-year-old boy wrote in June 1975. "This was about 9 or 10 months ago at Whitewater. He used a little cube of ice and rubbed it on my belly, thy (thigh) and once in a while on my penis while I was lying down."
The assistant Scoutmaster claimed in a letter to Boy Scout leadership that the troop leader admitted to assaulting 13 boys in the troop after parents came forward in June of 1975.
A letter to the accused from Scout Executive Walter Johnson, dated June 24, 1975, states: "After careful review, we have decided that your registration with the Boy Scouts of America should be suspended. … Please also understand that this decision and the reasons for it will be maintained as confidential."
There is nothing in the file to indicate whether this abuse was reported to police or if the Scout leader in question was ever arrested and prosecuted.
OAK LAWN, SCOUT TROOP 1600
In Oak Lawn, Thomas Hacker crafted the public persona of a wholesome family man and schoolteacher. But Hacker was able to hide his secret past of abusing young boys from his employers, friends, neighbors—and the Boy Scouts of America. The earliest record in Hacker’s “perversion” file is a “confidential record sheet” dated June 8, 1970, in which a Boy Scout official recommends that Hacker be placed in the “ineligible volunteer file” after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Indianapolis.
Hacker's sentence of one to five years in an Indiana prison was suspended on the stipulation he receive psychiatric treatment. Hacker received permission to relocate to Chicago’s northwest suburbs, where a year later he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of indecent liberties with a child. But Hacker does not appear in the Boy Scout perversion files again until 17 years later—after he was charged with six counts of aggravated sexual assault for molesting three Boy Scouts, ages 11 and 13, from St. Louis de Montfort Church in Oak Lawn in 1988, according to published news reports in his confidential file.
Eventually, he would be charged with 25 counts of having oral sex with underage Boy Scouts. At his 1989 trial, Cook County prosecutors said Hacker was able to elude the Boy Scouts of America’s internal controls for tracking pedophiles by changing his middle initial. He was convicted and is currently is serving a 30-year prison sentence. He is listed as a “sexually dangerous person” in the Illinois Sex Offender Registry.
CHICAGO, SCOUT TROOP 294
The first inkling that Boy Scout Troop 294 from Douglas Park had a leadership problem surfaced at a “Camporee” in May 1977, when troop leaders were said to be playing cards and imbibing in alcoholic beverages while supervising the youths. A month later, a pair of twenty-something Scoutmasters would be arrested and charged with several counts of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy at a Boy Scout camp near Naperville.
According to news reports of the day, Charles Fugate, of Chicago, whose hobby was “voodoo cultism,” lured the 11-year-old to the woods under the pretense of earning a merit badge and then sexually assaulted him. The boy was assaulted two more times on the camping trip, including another attack in a tent as another Boy Scout slept.
Chicago police arrested Fugate after the 11-year-old boy’s father confronted the 22-year-old assistant Scoutmaster at his home. He was released without charges when police learned the assault occurred in DuPage County. Fugate went on the lam until he surrendered himself to authorities a few days later.
Patrick Allen Weglarz was charged with concealing a fugitive — Fugate — as well as two counts of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. Weglarz was alleged to have been present during two of the attacks on the 11-year-old boy. Astonishingly, both Scout leaders were allowed to take a group of Boy Scouts camping the weekend after their arrests, where another assault occurred.
A DuPage County record of criminal indictment said that Welgarz “placed his mouth on the sex organ” of the victim. Welgarz, 26 at the time, and his 22-year-old assistant, were charged with taking indecent liberties with a 12-year-old Boy Scout.