Child Porn Suspect Fleetwood Peeples May Have Molested a Dozen Scouts in Florida Bewteen 1980 and 1982

According to the Orlando Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1jTwx6B), “A former Casselberry Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader arrested on child-pornography charges has admitted to police that he molested possibly a dozen young boys in his care during camping trips, new court documents say. A former Casselberry Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader arrested on child-pornography charges has admitted to police that he molested possibly a dozen young boys in his care during camping trips, new court documents say.”  The article goes on to state that despite news of Peeple’s arrest, none of Peeples’s victims, who were abused in the early 1980′s when they were between 5 and 12 years old, have come forward.

If all these allegation prove, this case proves several very important facts about sexual abuse in Scouting which are reflected in the BSA’s perversion files.  These files, which the BSA has maintained  for over 9 decades were publicly  released as a result of my 2010 Portland, Oregon case against the BSA, where I represented a victim who was abused in the same time period as those allegedly abused by Peeples. The jury in that case also awarded almost 20 million dollars to my client.   Like the allegations in the Peeple’s case, the  files proved first, that sexually abusive leaders molest numerous scouts in the troop; second that scouts are often abused during Scout related activities like camp outs and third, and perhaps most distressing, victims rarely come forward.

As difficult as it is, men who were sexually abused as Boy Scouts should not remain silent because hiding the abuse only makes it worse and as well, empowers the abuser.

Former Youth Worker Arrested for Sexual Abuse in Bluefield, West Virginia


The Bluefield Daily Telegraph has recently reported that a former church youth volunteer was charged with 38 counts of child sexual abuse related crimes. The accused, Timothy Probert, 55, was arrested in  Bluefield, West Virginia. According to a December article in the Telgraph, the alleged crimes stem from incidents that occurred when Probert was a youth volunteer at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bluefield (between 1986 and 2010) and a volunteer working with the Working to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect program. Probert is charged with 22 counts of sexual abuse by a custodian.”  While people are often surprised when they learn of  an arrest for sexual abuse of a person who occupies a  position of authority over children, as our nation has unfortunately learned from sexual scandals in the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and various other churches,  sports teams and schools, sexual abuse can occur in our most trusted institutions. Parents need to be vigilant. While strangers pose dangers to children, by far sexual abuse by trusted persons in positions of authority perpetrate far more sexual offenses against children than strangers. Paul Mones represents adult and child victims of sexual abuse.   

Green Meadow Waldorf School Sexual Abuse Report Due in 2014

According to a  12/28/13  article in the Journal News,  Kate  Christensen, a former student of the  Green Meadow Waldorf  School in Rockland County,  New York wrote in her book,  “Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites,”  (published earlier in 2013)  that she was sexually abused a number of times  by a teacher at the school in 1978. The sexual abuse occurred when she was a teenager.  Like educational institutions facing similar sexual abuse allegations the school turned to  T &M Protection Resources to conduct an investigation. The Journal News reported that the investigation’s findings are due after the first of the year.  While such internally commissioned investigations are laudable, it remains to be seen whether it will generate substantive change because large institutions of trust rarely change on their own.  Real change usually only occurs following a change in the law or litigation.

Kelly Clark advocate for survivors and my pal

Kelly Clark  lifted us all through his wisdom, his passion for the rights of survivors and his deep concern for the well-being of his family, friends, colleagues and law firm.   For Kelly it was all about making those who were ravaged and broken,  whole human beings again. His work was not limited to being a tireless advocate for survivors but as well for those whose life circumstances knocked them off their feet. He was an active board member of both the  William Temple House, a Portland-based community social service agency and the Hazelden Foundation.  Unique among us, he had not just the life-long appreciation of those who were fortunate enough to be represented by him and those like me who worked with him,  but uniquely, he had the immense admiration of his adversaries.

His clients were empowered by his belief in them and his unfaltering compassion for justice. In my conversations with him after our  landmark BSA case, he said to me one day -in a kind of disturbed tone – ‘I cannot believe  the number of people who are focusing on the money the jury awarded – sure it’s great-  but the verdict means so much more than that in terms of empowering survivors and protecting future generations of scouts. That was my pal Kelly.

Kelly fearlessly struggled right to the very end. He had been through so much in the past year -  lovingly attending to his dear wife Sabine who had put up a valiant fight against ALS and who finally succumbed in late October;  and then he  battled a disease that ravaged his body – one  his doctors really never got a handle on. The last time I saw KC was  the Sunday before Thanksgiving. He had just been released after about a month in the hospital.   He was in a wheel chair, unable to walk and having only very minimal use of his arms. He was very honest about  the dire nature of his situation, but he evidenced  immense bravery and remarkable resolve.  He said to me, “Paulie – I know its bad but I am thinking even if it turns out that I don’t get better and I  become a paraplegic, I am not stopping work. I am figuring out this wheelchair which has more bells and whistles than a Ferrari and I’ll just go back to dictation. That was my dear friend KC.

Kelly’s work on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse was  part of his greater spiritual journey to make the world a better place – I know I speak for all of you when I say that though his life was cut short, he accomplished that goal and more.

The Boy Scouts Have Decided to Admit Gay Youth

The BSA has decided that it will now allow gay youth to join the scouts. This is a major step forward for Scouting. The organization will however continue to exclude adult gay males. The reasoning for this limited policy change is likely that there is a sentiment within (and without) various segments of Scouting that gay leaders aremore prone to sexually abuse young boys than heterosexaul leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Adult male leaders who molest boys are not homosexual. They are pedophiles or hebephiles (sexual interest in post-pubescent boys who have no interest in consensual adult relationships – they are only interested in preying on boys. Many have and will criticize the BSA for only partially eliminating the ban, but we must realize that like with all large institutions, change does not come overnight. This was a substantial about-face for the BSA that was, from all news reports, not an easy one for the organization to make. I firmly beleive that the BSA will soon realize that gay youth make the BSA a stronger and better organization and that realization will provide the impetus for it, in the in the not too distant future, to change the present policy concerning adult leaders. Fot more information on the policy change, please read Erik Eckholm’s NY Times piece.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/us/boy-scouts-move-to-lift-ban-on-gay-members.html

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles: Concealing the Truth

Like the release of the BSA perversion files in October of last year, the recently released sexual abuse files of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles clearly establish that organizations which are founded on the lofty principle of the nourishment and protection of a child’s body and soul, act against their own best interests when they attempt to conceal the problem of sexual abuse.  Such tactics are   myopic because they weaken, not strengthen the organization. Had the Catholic Church and the BSA dealt openly and honestly about their child molestation problem  by informing their membership of the risks and immediately reporting suspected violators to law enforcement, they would have had  not just the support and admiration of their membership but of the public.

 

Who Would Have Thought It Could Get Any Worse

The court-ordered release of the Los Angeles  Archdiocese files demonstrates   in stark and alarming detail the   utterly   tragic dimensions of the problem of sexual abuse within that once- hallowed institution.  The original civil lawsuits which eventually forced the release of these  files revealed facts that  were  at once outrageous and disturbing:   priests exploiting the trust of the most innocent of their parishioners and then moved   from  parish to parish  to avoid arrest and scandal.  The myriad stories of molestation and broken souls   made clear   the   moral bankruptcy of the Archdiocese’s hierarchy.  But the minutiae  of Cardinal Mahoney’s  (and others) calculating decision-making process     which  have  emerged in the  just-released letters and memos , reveals a level of malevolence and cunning, the scope of which  would not have been comprehended   had the document remained secret — as was the desire of the Church.  If hell does exist, there should be   a special rung for   those   who knowingly protected predators posing as men of god.

 

Silence at Brooklyn Poly Prep

Eric Lewis, a New York attorney, wrote a heart wrenching N.Y. Times essay (January 12, 2013) on being a student at Poly Prep in Brooklyn in the 1970’s when revered football Coach Phil Foglietta was winning games and sexually assaulting countless boys. The op-ed represents a twist on the numerous pieces we have read over the last few years on sexual abuse scandals. Lewis is the first person in memory to honestly admit, what I and many others who represent victims of sexual abuse know to be true.  Many people, including teenagers – know when something is not right with an adult who is in a trusted position of authority over kids. Lewis recounts examples of seeing something or feeling something he knew was just not right about the way Foglietta treated certain vulnerable boys, yet he kept quiet,  just like everyone around him. Lewis harshly takes himself to task for his silence and inaction. I admire Lewis for revealing this horrible secret he has carried all these years, however he should not be so hard on himself. The ones to blame are the teachers, administrators and other adults (who will never be as honest as Lewis) who observed the same things as a  15 year old and said nothing – I have always believed there is a special place in hell for those adults who remain silent in these situations, seeking to protect the institution for whom they work rather than the helpless child.

Video Games Hold No Answers

For over thirty years I have represented teens throughout the nation charged with homicide. I have not conducted any   laboratory controlled studies on the relationship between violent video games (or for that matter slasher movies or violent music lyrics) and   homicidal or aggressive behavior   in young people. I have however, come to many understandings about teen homicide and youth violence sitting for hours on end in windowless jail interview rooms with shackled teenagers who have taken the lives of friends, neighbors, family members and strangers. And what I have learned is that the relationship between the killing and what video game the kid plays, what movie he watches or song he listens to is so tenuous as to be irrelevant. If there   was any truly meaningful link between   homicide and media exposure from any source, then by now one would have seen a whole body of supportive forensic research being used in our courts. If any of this research being trotted out now held even a glimmer of hope for a person accused of murder, attorneys all over the country would be mounting vigorous defenses based upon this connection – but we haven’t. And the reason we haven’t is that the connection between the psychological and behavioral dynamics of youth homicide and violent video games and violent movies is simply not there.

                Critics of violent media typically trot out studies which supposedly show that children (in a controlled setting) become more agitated or aggressive in the aftermath of watching a violent movie or playing a violent video game. These studies however have precious little to do with the reality of teens that kill. They do not account for the myriad of familial, social and psychological factors that present themselves in the vast majority of homicides perpetrated by teens and young adults. However, these types of studies gain easy traction with the public and politicians because of a   widespread   distrust of teenagers and  the unspoken belief that even average, well-adjusted  16 or  18 year olds, can’t be relied upon to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

                The video-creators of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil (or for that matter film directors like Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone) are also easy targets for the public’s wrath – much easier than say gun manufacturers. Our nation has a long and enduring history of making our musicians, film makers and television producers whipping boys   for the messy, intractable   social issues it doesn’t want to confront head on – and that is exactly what we are seeing now. In fact, witness that the only area of common ground between liberals and conservatives in the whole post-Newtown debate is tightening   the reins on video-game makers.    

                 Pointing the finger at video game makers also stems from an unwillingness to look directly at ourselves and our families for the real answers. The two principal factors at the heart of these terrible tragedies are long term mental illness and the prolonged exposure to   physical violence and sexual abuse in the home.   A number of years ago,   I represented a young teenage girl who shot her father with his own gun. The state’s theory was that she was under the influence of heavy metal music (Motley Crue) which put thoughts in her mind of   the occult and suicide.  (Outside the courtroom the prosecutor told the press that “research suggested that teenage fans of such music may be prone to violence.”) As the evidence came in, it became clear that music   had nothing to do with the homicide. In finding   her not guilty, the judge decided   that she   killed her father because he was beating her mother and she was fearful he was going to rape her.

 Many   children who kill also have psychological and behavioral adjustment problems which can be traced back to their pre-school and early elementary school years. In some of these cases parents simply do not see these problems; in others, they see the problems and either don’t know what to do or don’t care to do anything. Our unwillingness to accept the fact that serious mental illness in children and adolescents is simply way beyond the ability of most parents to effectively address is one of the most profound challenges we face in preventing youth violence.  

                We have for the first time an historic opportunity to move forward the national dialogue about violence in a meaningful way. Obviously restricting access to high-capacity weapons is a needed step, but we are deluding ourselves if we believe that any legislation curbing media violence in any of its forms will prevent future tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

 

Boy Scouts ‘Perversion Files’ Released

After an almost  18 month  battle, on October 18th,  my co-counsel Kelly Clark and I released  pursuant to an order of the Oregon Suprme Court,  more than 14,500 pages of previously confidential documents from the Boy Scouts of America’s so called ‘Perversion Files,’ a set of files maintained by the Scouts since the 1920s on adult leaders who allegedly  molested scouts.  The files released today contain stark and disturbing details of alleged abuse by more than 1,200 different Scoutmasters and other adult volunteers in the period from 1965 and 1985.  Testimony at trial established that the average pedophile has between five and 20 victims leading to the tragic conclusion that thousands of boys were abused in the two decades covered by these   files. The released files were the centerpiece of a 2010 trial (Jack Doe 1, et at. v. Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Latter-day Saints, et al. Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0710-11294) in which we proved that the BSA knew for decades that it had an institution-wide problem with sexual abuse. The case ended with a jury verdict of nearly $20 million against the BSA on behalf of our client Kerry Lewis who was sexually abused in the early 1980’s by his   Scoutmaster. It was the first time that the Perversion Files were used as evidence in a trial. The files represent the largest and most comprehensive data collection system on child sexual abuse maintained by any youth organization in the nation. This release represents the first time that the general public will get a detailed look at these files. There are many lessons to draw from these files, but perhaps one of the most important is that if the largest and one of the most respected youth organizations in the United States had such a serious sexual abuse problem, then one can understand the immense scope and pervasiveness of this crisis that has destroyed untold lives.