By PETER ZUCKERMAN . PZUCKERMAN@POSTREGISTER.COM . AND POST REGISTER STAFF
COPYRIGHT 2005 POST REGISTER
A Post Register investigation has found evidence that at least three molesters stalked eastern Idaho Boy Scouts during the career of current Grand Teton Council leadership:
• A sworn statement filed Friday in Bannock County court alleges that a camp counselor named Dennis Empey mutilated animals, showed off his firearms and then raped a 15-year-old Eagle Scout in 1983 at the Island Park Scout Camp. The allegation matches the crimes Empey was convicted of in Utah in 1991. The story about the rape was bolstered by a second Eagle Scout who says Empey tried to rape him a few weeks later during a sleepover.
• Court records unsealed in May show that Jeff Hardin, a counselor at Camp Little Lemhi was convicted of lewd conduct for molesting a Chubbuck Scout. Hardin, a Scoutmaster, met the boy at Camp Little Lemhi, got to know him and sneaked into his bedroom to fondle the boy in September 1991. According to the victim, similar abuse occurred “too many times to count.”
• As previously reported by the Post Register, former Camp Little Lemhi counselor and staff supervisor Brad Stowell confessed to molesting at least 24 boys, many of them Scouts. He was arrested in 1997.
Victims said the molesters presented the facade of respectability. They landed top Scout ranks, served LDS church missions and pursued college degrees.
Although they wouldn’t grant detailed interviews for this story, Grand Teton Council officials have said that, at least in the Stowell case, they could not have done anything to stop the pedophile.
The victims disagreed. They complained that executive director Kim Hansen and other leaders of the region’s Grand Teton Council discounted warnings and complaints.
They said Scout officials should have told more parents that Scouts had been fondled, seduced or sodomized by Scout leaders.
While they emphasized that most Scout volunteers and sponsors are virtuous, victims said they have spoken out in hopes that confronting the truth will forever break the pattern of pedophilia at eastern Idaho Scout camps.
“Knowing the bewildering horror that befalls young victims, how it alters so dramatically the rest of their lives, I feel it is immoral to do nothing,” wrote Jeff Bird, who says Empey raped him.
” … Be thankful that this filth has been exposed to the disinfectant of light for all to see so that we can ensure that our Scouting organization follows the rules that are there to protect our sons from the deep wounds of this crime.”
When the first case surfaced in February, Grand Teton Council executive Kim Hansen said he knew of only one pedophile camp counselor: Brad Stowell.
Jeff Bird thought he ended it by reporting — twice — that he’d been anally raped at camp in June 1983 by an older instructor who coerced him to share a tent.
Bird grew up, got married, had six kids and told his wife little about it until he read the newspaper’s report on Brad Stowell.
Change the names and it’s a rerun of the same story, Bird said when he called the paper. How had pedophiles returned to camp, he demanded, after he’d reported his humiliating rape?