Last week according to a story in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Michael Kelsey, a Scoutmaster and former Dutchess County, New York legislator, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for sexually abusing two teenage boys in his troop in 2014 (http://pojonews.co/2f1eikP). In May 2016, a jury found Kelsey guilty of first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree attempted sexual abuse. In their victim impact statements, which are available at http://bit.ly/2eCGF6m, these two brave young survivors made clear in starkly honest and poignant terms the devastating psychological and emotional impact that Kelsey’s sexual abuse had on them. For anyone concerned about the plight of victims of Boy Scout sexual abuse or for that matter the effect of sexual abuse on any young person, these victims’ impact statements should be required reading.
One victim said in part, “Mike’s actions towards (the other victim) and me felt like a stab in the back. After so many years of looking up to this man, it kills me to realize that the person I thought he was is not truly who he is, Mike’s actions have not only hurt me but they have hurt my family….The only time I can remember seeing my father cry was after telling him what happened to (the other victim) and me…Mike disrupted our whole life. He ruined my scouting experience, changed the way my friends see me and he hurt my family, my best friend and me.
The other victim told the court in part, “ …He destroyed the trust we had in him as well as the trust our parents had in him. Mike destroyed my ability to ever trust someone to the same magnitude. I will always doubt my friends and their intentions, no matter how close I am to them….I will never be the same no matter how hard I try to make my life normal again…When I remember Boy Scouts, this will be the first thing I remember, not the thousands of brilliant memories I made with the troop.”
Not only do these boys’ statement perfectly sum up the world-shattering effects of sexual abuse by an adult in a trusted position of leadership, their heart-felt statements also illustrate the problems experienced by the thousands of Scouts who through the years, have been sexually abused by their adult leaders and Scoutmasters. The pain and suffering articulated by these boys is almost identical to the emotions expressed by almost every single one of the many Boy Scouts I have represented over the years. As these two courageous Boy Scouts made clear, at the heart of their pain and suffering is that Boy Scouts look up to their Scoutmasters not just as role models, but mentors and friends. When a Scoutmaster sexually abuses a Scout he robs that boy of not just his trust, but his youth and innocence as well. The Boy Scouts of America has known of its problem with Scoutmasters sexually abusing scouts for decades prior to these boys being molested. Tragically, what happened to these two Boy Scouts was far from unique. The Boy Scouts Perversion Files, which the BSA has been maintaining since around 1920, document case after case of Boy Scouts sexually abused by their Scoutmasters. The victim statements of these two boys demonstrate in the clearest and most persuasive terms the paramount importance of sexual abuse prevention and education in Boy Scouts and in all youth organizations.
Paul Mones is an attorney who has represents Boy Scouts who have been sexually molested by their adult leaders and other victims of sexual abuse.