This article is from Big Country News Connection and based on an interview with attorney Andrew Chasan, and one of the BSA abuse victims he is currently working with…
CLARKSTON, WA – It was 1972 and John Doe IV was a 12-year-old boy. He learned about the Boy Scouts of America at school and decided to join Troop 176, which was just down the street from his home. It wasn’t long after, he told Big Country News Connection, that his Scout leader – Lawrence Libey of Lewiston – began to sexually abuse him.
Doe is one of 16 men who are part of a federal lawsuit that was filed last June against the Boy Scouts and the LDS Church alleging sexual abuse by BSA volunteers. The lawsuit accuses both organizations of failing to protect the alleged victims from sexual abuse by adult volunteers at Scouting activities. “LDS Defendants also promoted Scouting as a wholesome, safe, and beneficial program for boys, by sanctioning Scouting as the official program for boys within the LDS Church,” court documents state.
“Sexual abuse of JOHN DOE IV included fondling, oral sex, sodomy, forcing JOHN DOE IV to have sex with another boy, and other acts of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse,” according to court records.
Doe says Libey allegedly abused him hundreds of times over a six-year period. “The first actual personal contact came one day when he said that we needed to do an inventory of camping equipment. He lived in a trailer and had a trailer with camping equipment and that was the first time he got me alone,” Doe says.
“I was thinking there was going to be a bunch of boys there going through the stuff and seeing what we had and what we needed, and when I got there I was the only one there.” Something in the back of Doe’s mind made him feel like there was something wrong. “Yes, there’s something wrong – there’s nobody here. And then he also, with nobody there, had me go into his trailer and it was an old trailer with blacked out windows and everything. So I thought that was kind of strange too, but I didn’t really think about it.”
Doe says that is when Libey allegedly touched him. He didn’t know what to say, and it was like Libey knew that Doe was in a vulnerable stage in life. “I guess he knew what to do and what to say and where I was. I was living in a single parent home, my mom and dad were divorced, and so didn’t have any father figures in my life at the time, and he knew…he would say the right things, he would have these cool gadgets to play with and stuff like that. He was a smart guy – he knew exactly what he was doing.”
Doe is the only person to come forward in relation to Libey, but he believes there are others who were sexually abused by Libey. “I am sure that I was not the first one. I’m sure there’s other people out there. And I know for a fact that there are other boys out there because at one point he had me have sex with another boy. So I know there is at least one boy, and I’m sure there are lots of others because there were a lot of Boy Scouts and people would say stuff just on the fly.” Doe says thinking back at it now, Libey had to have been touching some of the other boys.
Libey did not threaten Doe at first, he says. “As things started progressing, then he would have a letter he was going to write ‘you know if you say anything this letter’s going out. People aren’t going to like what you did,’” Doe says, adding that Libey put the blame on him. And being 12-years-old, he says he didn’t know any better.
“This went on for years. He would do different things – I remember one time that he brought out a gun and he said, ‘you know, I’ve got this if I need it and if I’ve got to let somebody know, something’s going to happen to somebody,’” Doe says.
Doe says Libey made him feel guilty so that he would not tell anybody. “He would make you think that you were willing, but you weren’t willing. I had the threat over my head that he was going to hurt somebody. Whether it was going to be me, or a family member, or something. But he had this 9mm that was a part of what he was and what he was doing.”
One thing that Doe regrets is never telling his mom. “She never asked until…he was arrested the first time,” he says. Libey was charged in an unrelated case in July of 1987 with sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16, lewd conduct with a child under 16, and two counts of crime against nature. He ultimately pled guilty to the lewd conduct charge. Libey died in 1999 at the age of 88.
“She called me up and asked me if he had done anything, and I wasn’t being honest with her. He didn’t force you to do anything..even though he did force you to do stuff. I wasn’t honest with her about that, and so she just dropped it,” Doe says. And that same day, he says Libey called him and asked him to write a letter of recommendation. “Saying that he wasn’t a bad guy…that he was just there to help us and stuff like that.”
Doe says he felt like he was 12-years-old again. “I was probably 25 or 26, and I felt like I was a kid. I was right back into it. He had total control over me. I just couldn’t believe it. I don’t know what control a person like that can have over people. That can really control your life and take away your childhood,” he says. Doe never wrote the letter.
Back then, people did not talk about child sexual abuse in the way they do today, and Doe says he did not have anyone he felt he could tell. “Back then there were no avenues. When something happened, you had nowhere to go, nobody to talk to, and you are always going to feel like you were the one at fault because why didn’t you stop it. I feel like I should have been able to stop it, but I didn’t. And I just don’t know why. It was like whatever he wanted was what you were going to do. And I didn’t want it. But I felt like I had to,” Doe says.
Doe says while the Boy Scouts had its so-called “Perversion Files” since around 1920, the organization did not have a plan for the victims or a way to correct it. “All these Scout Masters had been doing these things to boys and they didn’t tell us in any meetings that ‘if this happens, this is what you need to do.’ We just thought we had to just live with this,” he says.
“The ultimate irony about that…they don’t want any homosexuals in the Boy Scouts, but pedophiles aren’t homosexuals. Pedophiles want to have sex with children. They’re not looking for an adult relationship,” Attorney Andy Chasan says. “Pedophiles are predatory – there’s never just one.”
“Even though they know about it, they’re still not going out to try to find the victims. They aren’t actively doing what they need to do,” Doe says about the Boy Scouts of America.
Chasan says there has to be numerous other victims. “They weren’t a Scout leader for a year or six months. They were there for 10 years.” Those victims can come forward anonymously, he says, but he adds that it is often a very difficult choice. “Sometimes it takes them months and months to come forward. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes people are in a good place in their life and they want to leave it that way.”
Another former Boy Scouts official who has been mentioned in a list obtained from Chasan’s office is Timothy Kellis, who was once a teacher in the Highland School District in Craigmont, involved with the Color Guard/Marching Band program in the Clarkston School District, and was the music director at a Tumwater, Washington high school.
So far, Chasan says, none of Kellis’ alleged victims have come forward to take part in this lawsuit but he is hoping that they do.
During a 2008 trial in Latah County Second District Court, two teenage boys told jurors that the 38-year-old Kellis would enter the tent the Scouts shared at Camp Grizzly near Harvard, Idaho during the summer of 2007. Kellis was a staff member at the time. He was initially charged with 10 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor under 16 and two counts of sexual abuse of a child. Subsequently, one of the lewd conduct counts was amended to attempted lewd conduct with a minor under 16.
Kellis pled not guilty to all charges, but a jury found him guilty of all counts. The district court imposed concurrent unified sentences of life with 15 years fixed for each of the nine counts of lewd conduct, 15 years with 5 years fixed for the count of attempted lewd conduct, and 25 years with 15 years fixed for each of the two counts of sexual abuse, according to court records.
Those who believe they were the victims of either Libey or Kellis, or any other Boy Scouts leader, can contact Chasan at: http://www.idahoboyscoutabuse.com/bsas-ineligible-volunteer-files-are-now-publicly-available-online