Boy Scouts of America leaders knew for years that troop leader Richard Turley molested boys, including three from Orange County, but the organization allowed him to move back and forth between his native Canada--and thus to continue the pedophilia on both sides of the border. The Scouts even helped Turley go undetected by authorities.
That's the conclusion of a joint investigation by the Los Angeles Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Stories based on the investigation were broadcast Friday by CBC-TV's The Fifth Estate and posted online Saturday by the LAT, under the dual byline of Jason Felch and Kim Christensen, who used to cover Orange County.
Throughout the 1970s and '80s, Turley, whose nickname is Rick, was involved in scouting across California and British Columbia. He found scouting the best way to get his jollies with little boys, he admits to reporters on tape and camera.
As far as anyone knows, Turley's pervitry began in 1971, when he moved to Toronto as a member of the Canadian military and befriended a woman with a 9-year-old son. Turley offered to take the boy to Cub Scout meetings, but he instead took him to his apartment, plied him with alcohol and had his way sexually with the passed-out lad.
As a 21-year-old Scout leader, Turley would go on to tell a Nova Scotia mother he was taking her 11-year-old boy, then living in La Puente in Los Angeles County, for a day of fun in San Diego. After molesting the boy as he slept in Turley's truck, the adult later stole a Cessna at a regional airport, vowing to take the boy back to Canada with him. But the plane was low on fuel, Turley was forced to land and the Scout leader pleaded guilty to child stealing. A judge committed him to Patton State Hospital near Highland as a "mentally disordered sex offender." And yet, despite the Boy Scouts of America keeping track of pedophile troop leaders through their "confidential files," the rape and kidnapping incident was never entered into those files.
After 18 months at Patton, Turley was deemed fit for release in November 1976. The judge ordered him to return to Canada and to report for probation if he ever re-entered the U.S. Within a year, Turley was working at a Boy Scout camp near San Diego, where he would work for the next three summers. On the last night of camp in July 1979, he molested three boys from Orange County. That incident was entered in the BSA confidential file, also known as the "perversion file."
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Parents of the three boys agreed not to press charges against Turley if he would leave the country, saying they would go to authorities should they discover he was involved in scouting again. By August of 1979, he was leading a Boy Scout troop in the Victoria area, where he lured boys to his tent, plied them with alcohol and molested them. Turley also convinced Scout leaders to arrange future trips to the U.S. He would go on to molest boys on both sides of the border into the 1980s.
In the end, Turley was not undone by Scout officials who suddenly came to their senses (or read and shared their own perv files). It was a suspicious girlfriend who informed authorities. In British Columbia, Turley was convicted in 1996 of sexually abusing four boys, three of whom were scouts, but later admitted to having at least a dozen victims. He served five years in prison and seven years of long-term supervised parole, which he completed in 2009.
Today's Boy Scouts of America requires background checks of troop leaders.
The Fifth Estate and Los Angeles Times reporters tracked Turley down in Alberta, where he claimed his sexual impulses are now under control thanks to an intense sex-offender program he underwent. When shown the 1979 confidential file compiled by the Scouts, Turley shook his head in amazement, saying one call to police would have ended his reign of terror.
"That probably would have put a stop to me years and years ago," the 58-year-old said at an Alberta motel where he works as a manager and handyman.
As for preying on boys as a Scout leader, Turley remarked, "It was easy. Kids were easily accessible."
And they don't even get a badge for the nightmares.