A former Scoutmaster confesses to decades of molestations that happened as the Scouts looked the other way; a victim explains the trauma endured at the hands of another troop leader.
Lee Dalton was 26 years old and a recent Kent State graduate in 1966 when he left his leadership position with local Boy Scout Troop 61, his teaching job in Burton, and his hometown of Hiram, Ohio, and headed out to Montana with his wife.
Over the next three decades, Dalton would become many things in his new life: a national park ranger, a father of four, a cop, a devout Mormon and a moderately successful Mormon-themed novelist and magazine writer.
But he would also ease back into old patterns and comfortable roles, once again becoming a Boy Scout leader and, eventually, an elementary school teacher in a small northwest Utah town —positions that gave him opportunity and access for one other thing he'd been most of his life: a child molester.
Dalton was arrested for the first and only time in 1997, for sexually abusing his only son, and served three and a half years in a Utah prison for the offense. It was not, however, the first time he was accused of such activity, though the Utah courts would have no way of knowing that.
The courts didn't know the reason that Dalton left all facets of his life behind back in the '60s and set out West was in a confidential file maintained by the Boy Scouts that contained correspondence from local and national officials documenting Dalton's "teaching and assisting boys of Troop 61 in group masturbation" in 1966. Boy Scout officials, who knew he was also an elementary school teacher in nearby Burton, determined "deregistration" from the Scouts was punishment enough—no need to turn him in to authorities.
So Dalton simply left town—and did it again. And again, until finally being caught some thirty years later.
Dalton, now 71-years-old and living in Ogden, Utah, tells Scene he doesn't remember the exact number of children he's molested in his life, but thinks the total is around 24 since he's been an adult and more than 40 since he was a child.
His story—one of thousands illuminated by the formerly confidential "perversion files" the Boy Scouts were forced to release last year—is what happens when a calculated child molester is granted unfettered access to children thanks to a massive national organization willing to look the other way.
The "perversion files" were maintained by the Boy Scouts decades ago, meant to bar Scout leaders who were accused or even arrested for sexual abuse and other crimes. In many cases, like Dalton's, those warnings and discoveries not only were never turned over to police but were completely ignored by the Scouts organization itself, as leaders with sexual offenses in their history were let right back into leadership roles around children. To wit: Lee Dalton rejoined the Scouts in the late 1970s without the national office's knowledge and again in the '80s with the organization's approval.
Thousands of these confidential files documenting scout abuse and internal response from officials were made public last year by the Los Angeles Times (latimes.com/boyscouts).
By scouring those files and tracing public records and court cases, interviewing Lee Dalton, the pedophile and former Scout master, and interviewing the victim of another former Scoutmaster, it's abundantly clear the extensive abuse and pain detailed decades ago did not end there. Unsurprisingly, the molestation and abuse at the hands of those "deregistered" Scout leaders did not stop when those penalties were levied. Those pedophiles were instead set free into society to abuse again.
A Small Town Predator
Nestled in the rolling farmland of Portage County, Hiram is still a one-stoplight town like it has been for years.
"You talk about a small town? If you blink, you missed it, and it's still that way," jokes 89-year-old Marjorie Vondle during a lunch for area senior citizens in the basement of the Hiram Christian Church. The town has changed, though, she says, reminiscing about the times before school consolidation forced kids to travel to Mantua instead of the center of Hiram and the few businesses (the store, a beauty parlor, and gas station) shut down. "We even lost our library."
"It was busy, active—there were things going on," she says, bemoaning the loss of interaction she once had with her neighbors while she worked in the town's grocery store in the 1960s. "We had a high school until 1964, so we had school and church activities going on."
The town may have been more active and tight knit in the past than today, but back then it was significantly more isolated from outside people and ideas.
"When I graduated in 1954, we had 56 kids in our high school, it was a very, very small-nested group of kids" says Roger Masters, who's lived all but a few of his 77 years in his family's pre-Civil War plank house a few miles out of town.
The isolated, church-centered, small Ohio town was not on the forefront of the impending sexual revolution.
"It was a conservative, Republican area," says Masters. "Hiram had missionaries coming in and out. The college was straight laced, no drinking. The kids had to go to Parkman or Drakesburg if they wanted to do any drinking. Can you imagine that? It was dry into the '70s."
Luke Elbert Dalton, Jr,—known his whole life as just Lee Dalton—was not a normal Hiram kid when he came to town in the early 1950s, nor was he a normal man when he left town and entered the "perversion files" in 1966. An outsider born in 1941, he was an Army brat who spent time on military bases across the country, Austria, and Japan immediately following World War II. Dalton's father, Luke Sr., settled the family in town when he was in eighth grade. It was the first time they didn't have to quickly pick up and move.
"My father was an alcoholic," says Dalton in a phone interview set up after Scene informed him he would be featured in an article about Northeast Ohio Scout leaders listed in the perversion files. "I think his alcohol probably caused some major problems in the Army for him because we were transferred much more frequently than other families were. He was an officer, a major. I don't know how many schools [I attended] before I was able to settle down before Hiram."
His father was abusive, Dalton says. Not physically or sexually, he said, but mentally: "I've always had a problem with... nowadays they call it self esteem."
The year they moved to Hiram, they joined the Hiram Christian Church and Dalton joined the Boy Scouts troop it sponsored, the same troop he would eventually lead, the same troop where he would find boys to "groom" for molesting.
Masters recalls the kids on the outside of town learning about sex on the farms, and kids on the inside—usually the offspring of professors at the college—learning from academic books. Dalton says he learned it from all of the "sex play" that happened among the "neighborhood kids" growing up on Army bases. It happened in each location, he claimed.
"Japan was where I remember it starting, in first or second grade," he says. "What I remember there was a little girl who was teaching all of the little boys the facts of life. Then, on other bases, it was other boys. It was just a continuous thing, as I remember it."
Used to the "sex play" among peers on military bases, Dalton didn't fit in with other teens in small-town Hiram, Ohio.
"I think what had happened was I just developed a fascination with sex and then when I got into normal circumstances, it didn't go over well with people my age," he says. "And so I think what happened was I began turning to younger kids."
Since he left the military bases as a child, he's been sexually fixated on young, Scouting-aged children. When he became of-age, a leadership position in the Scouts gave him access to continue to act on his thoughts.
The Boy Scout's file on Dalton is devoid of many details but the ones mentioned are damning: he "taught" and "assisted" group masturbation in one incident with the scouts in 1966. Dalton admitted to Scene that he molested children throughout college (he graduated high school in 1959 and college in 1965); he took up a leadership role in the organization and started as an elementary school teacher in nearby Burton to satisfy his urges.
"Usually it was through Scouting or when I got into teaching," he says about how he would find kids while a student at Kent State. "I began teaching when I was 19."
"A large part of it was working hard to try to keep from putting myself into a position where... these didn't just happen at the spur of the moment." He explains about how he "couldn't help" himself and had to go through with it.
"There's grooming that takes place first. You find some way to be alone with a kid, you gain trust, you gain trust with a kid's parents or whatever, and you put yourself in the position where you're able to go ahead and perform the act."
His reputation was somewhat of an open secret in Hiram and Burton, especially by 1966 when he left town and had his Boy Scout registration revoked. Until Scene contacted him, he had no clue that his abuse was documented, that the Boy Scouts knew about at least some of the incidents, and that his file was uploaded on the Internet for anybody to see (read his file here).
The first adult who directly knew about Dalton's child molestation was Hiram Christian Church's Rev. Hunter Beckelhymer. The church sponsored Hiram's Troop 61 and hosted meetings in the basement. Beckelhymer was the first religious leader that enabled Dalton to continue having access to children through the Boy Scouts, though not the last.
"Getting married was supposed to take care of all this," Dalton says. He married his wife, Donna, in 1966 according to Geauga County records. It did not stop his molesting. She finally divorced him in 1997 while he was in prison for molesting their son; she knew about his "problem" from the beginning, he says.
Richard Masters, who is six years older than Dalton and was also involved in the Scouts in Hiram, says Rev. Beckelhymer would not have been able to properly handle a situation like Dalton's.
"He was an academic man, a very personable man, but I think counseling would be very difficult for him on that topic," Masters says. The concept of two grown men engaging in a consensual relationship was foreign enough to the area— "There was no knowledge in this area that it was a possibility, option, or thought," he says— so a grown man sexually abusing a child would be even crazier.
"Sexuality was a no-no topic in Hiram," says Masters. "The schools, there was just no sex education. Kids learned from the farm, and there was no sex education in schools."
Masters remembers how uncomfortable Beckelhymer would be when the topic of sex would come up during Christian Fellowship meetings with students in Hiram. Beckelhymer left Hiram in 1966, the same year as Dalton, to teach at Brite Divinity School, affiliated with Texas Christian University.
A 1967 Associated Press blurb gives a sense of Beckelhymer's stance on sexuality: "The best response by a college girl to the modern sex revolution still is a 'wide angle haymaker to the jaw followed by a maidenly scream,' the Rev. Hunter Beckelhymer of Texas Christian University writes in a new book based on letters to a coed daughter, entitled 'Dear Connie.'"
The circumstances behind who knew what about the final incident documented in his Boy Scout file are still unclear.
A September 8, 1966, letter from C.W. Byers, Scout executive of the Western Reserve Council in Warren, to Howard Boyd of the registration service for the national council reads:
We have been advised that the Troop Committee of Troop 61 Hiram, Ohio that boys have been encouraged and assisted in the act of masturbation by Assistant Scoutmaster, Lee Dalton, 5'9" in height and weighs approximately 150 pounds. He is single, protestant, and is employed as a teacher at Burton Schools, Burton, Ohio. He teaches science.
It is the feeling of the Troop Committee that Mr. Lee Dalton should be removed from the registration of Scout leaders of the Boy Scouts of America due to the fact that his conduct with boys is not conducive to Good Character Development And Citizenship Training.
Boyd replied four days later:
Dear Mr. Byers:
Thank you for your letter of September 8 concerning Lee Dalton, Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 61. We have placed this information in our files and have taken steps to have his name deleted from the Troop roster.
Enclosed is a confidential record sheet which we would very much appreciate your completing and returning to us, together with any substantiating statements which may be available pertaining to this situation, such as a statement from the boys involved or the parents of the boys.
This information will enable us to identify Mr. Dalton should he ever again attempt to register for Scouting programs.
Director of Registration
Attached in the file is a mostly illegible handwritten note that that would have detailed the response to the incident. Phrases that can be deciphered include "Ernie Conklin & Paul Gustafson talked to Lee Dalton and collected his registration cards," "we spent hours discussing the problem and hoped it is settled in Hiram," and "thought you should know the action taken." The name of the person who wrote the letter is redacted. Gustafson was a Hiram professor at the time and had a 10-year-old son in the troop.
"The minister and I were talking back and forth and it seemed like we had sort of reconciled things there with the parents," says Dalton about the incident mentioned in the file, which he didn't know was documented. "I sat down with the parents and talked to them, I believe there were three or four kids involved."
That was a good time for Dalton to skip town, he thought. His urges at his teaching job were getting too strong.
"It was right at the end of the school year and I had a seasonal job in Yellowstone," says Dalton, who claimed he would have gone to Montana for the summer regardless of the lingering issues in Hiram. "I was planning on leaving teaching anyway because I hadn't been able to keep things under control and I thought, 'Okay, let's get away from this.'"
And just like that, he was gone. He and his wife headed West. Word was starting to get around town about the young science teacher and Boy Scout leader. Not only did adults in the Boy Scouts get wind of Dalton's incidents, he claims school officials and lawyers knew about at least some of the students he molested at Burton Elementary by the time he left.
How many different boys did Dalton molest in the Hiram scouts? "Maybe as many as eight or 10, I don't really remember for sure." He doesn't know exactly how many Burton students he molested either, though he says he worked with a therapist and "came up with a number like 24 or 26" different children he's molested as adult and "43 going back to when I was in first grade."
An outdoorsman, Dalton arrived in Yellowstone National Park and became a ranger late in 1966. Like his father (and namesake), Dalton's job required his family to move from place to place, and the couple were transferred to parks in Wyoming, Arizona, California, Maryland and New Mexico before he left the service and moved to northern Arizona by 1978 to become a police officer, according to records.
By that time, Dalton and his wife had a 10-year-old daughter and joined the Mormon Church. Despite the intent to move for a fresh start and an end to his abuse, Dalton didn't stop molesting children.
"Probably every year or so," says Dalton about how often it would happen after he headed West. "I was oftentimes nailed by depression, and I'd go about a year and then maybe molest one or two, and then another year and another couple."
Dalton was no longer in Scouts or teaching, but he targeted neighbors' kids, friends' kids from church and others as victims. It was the same "grooming" process he used in Hiram and Burton: Gain their trust and get them alone.
Dalton's Boy Scout folder shows he rejoined the scouts in 1983 at the insistence of his Church of Latter Day Saints bishop in Woodruff, Utah. This wasn't supposed to happen—the whole point of keeping these "perversion files" was to keep these men away should they try to rejoin the organization later. Correspondence shows Scout executives knowingly approved the registration of a documented molester.
What the documentation didn't show, however, was that Dalton had become a scoutmaster of Troop 366 in Fredonia, Arizona, by 1978. Dalton said there was no indication that anybody in the Scouts or the Mormon bishop who called on him for the position knew about his past in Ohio, nor was there any problem with registration like there was supposed to be. Dalton didn't tell anybody either.
"There were some (molestation) incidents in northern Arizona," he says, "then I moved to Utah." He moved to Utah for a better opportunity for his family, not because of "incidents" in Arizona, he said.
Between 1979 and 1982, he had two more daughters and a son with his wife. Dalton moved his family to Woodruff, a tiny town in northern Utah with a population of 200. He got a job teaching elementary school in nearby Randolph, teaching for the first time since Burton. In 1983, the Woodruff bishop heard Dalton had been a Scoutmaster in Arizona and called on him to lead the local troop there. Dalton says he decided to be honest about his past "challenges" with the bishop.
"I sat him down and said, 'Look, you need to know some things about me,'" he says about the meeting, which apparently didn't deter the bishop from tapping Dalton to lead the local kids. "We had a long talk and we set up a number of safeguards. This was long before the Scouts went to the two-adult policy, well we set up a two-adult policy there."
Dalton joined Troop #24 in Woodruff, Utah, in October of 1983. This time, the national office did notice, like they should have in Arizona. A copy of the application was kept in his file with a typed note approving his registration and putting him on "probation" for two years: "Per Mr. E," it notes, which likely refers to Paul Ernst, a central figure in the national lawsuits because he oversaw the confidential files between 1971 to 1993 as the national director of registration.
Again, Dalton said nobody from the Scouts brought up his past to him. He didn't know he was on probation and didn't about know a file noting his abuse existed.
After one year of "probation," Ernst wrote regional Scout executive Paul M. Tikalsky Sr., of the Jim Bridger Council, and asked for a letter "regarding this individual's character and leadership performance."
Tikalsky responded to Ernst by saying the LDS bishop called on Dalton to lead the troop "without our knowledge" the previous spring, but he's been doing a good job: "Dalton's performance as a Scoutmaster has been good—he and his troop attended 1984 Summer Camp without incident and he is strengthening the troop in Woodruff, Utah. He seems to be very conscientious about Scouting..."
Tikalsky's letter is the first directly acknowledging Dalton's molesting ways as a Scoutmaster in Hiram since the 1966 correspondence from between Ohio and national officials.
"Lee Dalton is a school teacher in Woodruff, Utah, and apparently his performance has been satisfactory," he wrote, concluding that, "At this time, I believe the Ohio incident is behind him. However, we will continue to monitor his participation in Scouting."
As Dalton continued his participation in the Scouts, he also saw his writing published through the '80s in Scouting Magazine (the official magazine for the organization from which he was supposed to be barred for pedophilia), New Era magazine (the official magazine of the LDS Church that "features stories and spiritual messages that can educate and enlighten youth"), and as three moderately successful novels for the Mormon-focused Horizon Publishers.
A November/December 1980 article entitled "I Remember Roger" gave tips on how to handle Scouts who may have mental disabilities. That article is still listed in the official Boy Scouts' "Scouting for Youth With Disabilities" manual.
He was active in Scouts, active in the schools, and apparently hadn't molested anyone since moving to Utah. The Scout executive thought the "Ohio incident" was behind him, and so did Dalton.
"I can't tell you exactly how, but with help from my wife, talking openly with the bishops and the churches, I truly believed I had put this all behind me," he says. Until he started abusing the person that eventually put him in prison for the only time in his decades of abuse.
"I'm sure you know, the last victim was my son," he says. By this time, the Scouts, the Mormon church, officials at an elementary school and many others had looked the other way. His son should never have been in danger.
"Before I started molesting my son, it had been about 10 years, eight or 10 years, because there had been safeguards in place."
By the time his son was a 14-year-old eighth grader, Dalton had "molested him periodically once or twice a year" for six years. Dalton seemed to recognize the harm he was doing for the first time when his son turned "rebellious"-- smoking, drinking and having trouble with school.
"I talked to my wife then to our bishop, and turned myself in," he says, starting to tear up while talking about finally facing charges in 1997. "And in the process it wound up helping me."
Dalton was charged with sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony, and faced one to 15 years in prison. In a Deseret News article from the time, the Box Elder County Attorney contradicts Dalton's claim to Scene that he turned himself in. It reports the "abuse came to light during a counseling session with the boy, who is now 14." Documents from Utah's 1st District Court don't indicate how the case was instigated. Of course, there was no way for the courts to know about his history of abuse; the Boy Scouts kept those records for themselves.
At one point when he was out on bail, Dalton says he tried to kill himself, but stopped it because he knew the harm it would cause his family. His wife divorced him during his first year in prison; she was aware of his molesting going back to Hiram, but molesting their son was the "final straw."
He served just three and a half years in Gunnison Prison in central Utah, which he described as "one of the best experiences I've ever had. It's something that happens in your heart, and not inside your head."
Dalton was released from prison after three years and is now a registered sex offender living in Ogden, Utah. He camps and regularly blogs about camping for a Website devoted to the national parks. A May 2010 Salt Lake Tribune story said he's heavily involved in state politics: "A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an independent elected to be a delegate at last year's GOP convention, he told how he had been literally shouted down when he urged a moderate approach at this year's GOP caucuses."
He's reconciled with his family, he says, and has been working on reconciling his relationship with his son, who he says had trouble with alcohol and a marriage recently.
"My other kids didn't have any problems," he says about not molesting them as he did his son. "I had three daughters, the other three are daughters so there was no trouble there at all."
"They tell you that you can never be absolutely sure," that he won't molest again ("I couldn't honestly say that if I were to share a tent alone with a kid that nothing would happen"), but he says his "safeguards" are working so far since his release. He's on his homeowners association and stands up at every annual meeting to announce he's a sex offender. He makes sure to tell neighbors and relatives to never leave a child alone with him.
On the topic of openly gay men in the Boy Scouts, Dalton says it would be a "terrible, terrible, terrible mistake."
"Does this country know what it's doing by making perverted behavior acceptable?" He sees very little difference between what he did for more than 30 years to at least the 43 children and two openly gay men in a consensual relationship. "There's a line, but I think it's a very unclear line and so when you start putting—kids learn by example—and when you start putting, this is going to sound terrible, when you start putting homosexual men into leadership positions with young boys, what effect might they have?"
Dalton's passion on the topic runs contrary to the nonchalance with which he described his crimes and abuse. Not once during Scene's interview did Dalton apologize or express remorse for the pain he caused his victims.
But the Scoutmaster's tale is only one side of the story.
The Victim Doesn't Forget
Youngstown resident Thomas Barnhart was a 34-year-old married father with three young sons when he signed up for the Scouts in the 1980s. His registration for the Boy Scout Council in Warren was soon revoked. He became another entry in the perversion files.
"Unfit to be around boys—psychological problems," reads the cover sheet of the folder kept by the Boy Scouts on Barnhart. The file was kept private at the organization's headquarters for 28 years until the Los Angeles Times uploaded it online last fall.
Correspondence from Scout leaders kept in his file explains why. On July 23, 1984, Warren district executive James L. Dillon wrote to Paul Ernst—the same administrator who let Lee Dalton back in the Scouts a year earlier in Utah—at the national office:
On the evening of July 18, 1984, Mr. Thomas Barnhart made strong advances towards a 12 year old Scout from our council. Mr. Barnhart places his hands down the Scout's pants. The Scout then asked to leave to go to the restroom and ran directly to our Camp Office. No violence happened, and Mr. Barnhart was escorted out of camp immediately. At this date he is sekking (sic) psychological help. Mr. Barnhart is married and has three (3) children. He was serving as a provisional scoutmaster on July 18th. The council president, lawyer and physician were notified. The Scout's parents were notified and came to camp on the evening of the incident. The Scout remained in camp and did not seem to show any signs of having troubles because of the incident. I feel that Mr. Barnhart's membership should be rescinded, and he should never be able to register in the Boy Scouts of America again.
They refunded his $3 registration fee and deleted him from the roster. The Boy Scouts washed their hands of Thomas Barnhart, who had sons ages 8, 9, and 13 at the time. It was taken care of "internally."
Nearly 10 years to the day after Scout officials documented that he was "unfit to be around boys—psychological problems," a Mahoning County grand jury filed a secret indictment against Thomas Barnhart: two counts of felony rape, one count of felony gross sexual imposition and one count of assault. The victim, a 12-year-old Youngstown boy who was not in Scouts, was the same age as the Scout Barhnhart had molested a decade earlier; the courts were in the dark about his past.
Barnhart pleaded guilty to each count of the 1994 indictment and was released in 2010.
Scene tracked down the kid that put Barnhart away in 1994. We will refer to him using the name "Charles." He had never heard that Barnhart was affiliated with the Scouts, that he wasn't the only kid to make accusations against him and that the Boy Scouts knew about Barnhart.
Charles told Scene how Barnhart gained his and his family's trust to let him sleep at Barnhart's house, how he started abusing him, and what finally got him to turn him in. He also told of the self-blaming, self-hatred, and self-destructive behavior that led him to drug abuse and earn stints in prison he connects to the abuse.
"I buried this shit so deep down, dude," says Charles, explaining he's only talked about it to a few people since 1994 and that even those closest to him have no clue what he went through this as a kid. "I believe it fucked my life up, I really do."
Charles spent the first decade of his life in a small town just outside Youngstown before his mother moved the family to the lower north side of the city when his half-brother was born.
"There were a bunch of us kids, neighborhood kids, that would all hang out together," he says. He became good friends with one of the kids and began having sleepovers there, like kids do.
That friend's father was Thomas Barnhart.
"Well, he would make things real comfortable for me," Charles—who was 11 or 12 at the time—says about his friend's dad. "He'd buy me cigarettes, get us drunk, smoke weed, party all night long, have a good time. Whatever we wanted to do, we were able to do that."
Barnhart "manipulated and coerced" his way into the kid's life, taking advantage of an argument Charles had with his mother at the time.
"I didn't want to be at my mom's house and he played on that," says Charles, "telling me, 'You don't have to stay there, you can come stay here, come stay with me. You want cigarettes? Here. You want to go to the I-X Amusement Park? Here. You want ice cream? Here. You want liquor? Here.' He basically manipulated himself into my life until he got so far into my life that he could do that to me."
Barnhart made his move: "He talked his way into molesting me. At first I didn't know it was wrong and it happened again." The first time it happened, he prayed to god it would end.
"I remember him telling me crazy things," says Charles. "I remember telling him, 'I'm not gay, I'm not gay,' and he would tell me about relationships he's had with other men. I told him I was going to tell on him one time and he told me, 'I'll go to prison and I'll always remember this.'"
Charles didn't realize he was being preyed upon.
"It took me a long time to come to the realization that I didn't even know that what the fuck was going on to me was wrong, to stop what was happening," he says. "I didn't even know it was wrong, that a man and a kid shouldn't be sucking each other's dicks. I didn't know that was wrong, I had no idea."
Barnhart started to get more possessive of Charles and wanted to spend more time with him.
"He wanted me to stay, pretty much wanted me to move in, and I didn't want to do that," he explains—Charles had moved back to his nearby hometown when this happened. Charles finally ran out of Barnhart's house one day, but the adult caught up to him on his porch and punched the kid in the nose. Bloodied, Charles was able to call his mom to pick him up.
"I remember crying and coming out of my bedroom and telling my mom what happened. I remember her grabbing me and telling me everything is going to be okay and she called the prosecutors in Youngstown. They went to his house the next day and asked him if the things I was accusing him of were true. He said yes, they were, and they arrested him on the spot."
He was charged with two counts of rape of a child under 13, gross sexual imposition and assault. Charles says he molested him many more times than what he was charged with. Barnhart pleaded guilty to each count and Charles made sure he was there at sentencing: "I watched him get sentenced to seven years to life."
Although Barnhart was finally locked up, problems for Charles didn't go away. "You know what fucked me up for a lot of years? I used to blame myself because I let that happen to me. How could I let that happen to me? It took me many years to get over blaming myself for that shit happening."
In his early 30s now, he has a long rap sheet: drugs, theft, receiving stolen property. He's been to prison three times—first for receiving stolen property, then two stints for burglary—spending seven years locked up as an adult.
"I'm fucked up, I need psych pills, I'm aggressive," he says. "I take medication because I'm so aggressive. I don't trust any dudes at all, a very small amount of men, period, all of my life."
In prison, he dreamed of finding Barnhart. He knew where he was locked up and wanted to go there. Prison officials knew that could be the case when Barnhart went in; there was a "keep separate" order for the two, meaning they couldn't be housed in the same facility.
"My first time in prison, I remember praying to god to go to where he was so I could fucking beat the shit out of him and take his life," Charles says. "I remember praying, praying to god every time I went in. I didn't find it out until my third time that he had a 'keep-separate.'"
His third time in prison, Charles knew where Barnhart was, and devised a plan to get himself there. He told prison officials there was a vocational program at that prison he wanted to be part of and asked to be transferred there. He wasn't allowed to.
"God forbid, I would have probably fucking killed him," he says. "I honestly would have probably sat on my bunk one night and let that shit eat at me so bad that I would have probably tried to murder him, I really would have."
Charles is out of prison and is still dealing with his childhood abuse and, even though he's talked about it so few times since the arrest, it still hangs over him every day. Counseling hasn't really worked: he never trusted any of the counselors enough to talk about it and work out his problems.
There are little triggers that bring the feeling of abuse and shame back up in him. He'll never go back to the I-X Indoor Amusement Park ever again; that's where Barnhart took him to gain favor with the young kid. He's never told anybody before why the mention of the park has such a strong reaction in him.
"Nobody knows why," he says. "Even hearing the commercial makes me fucking sick. If I hear the commercial on the radio, it makes me fucking sick.
He doesn't know what happened to Barnhart, or what he'd do if he saw him again. Occasionally he'll search Facebook and Google to see if he can find any information on his whereabouts, but he never finds anything.
"If I really wanted to find him, I could find him," he says. But he no longer dreams of hurting his old abuser. He just wants to ask why it happened to him.
"As a man, I'd just like to stand in front of him and ask him why he would do that to me," he says. "If he's changed, if he said he's sick, that he needs help. If he's sorry. If he's remorseful about it I would probably forgive him."
Barnhart, now 63, has been out of prison for almost three years and has been released from parole for eight months. Scene tracked down Barnhart's current whereabouts—a block from an elementary school just outside of town—and called him to ask about his time in the Scouts. He "didn't remember" if he joined in the 1980s, "didn't remember" living at the address listed in his file, and said "I do not want to be written about" before hanging up.
Scene couldn't track Barnhart down through the state's sex offender registry, because he's not on it. He can live anywhere without registering his address or notifying anybody.
In 1999, while in prison, Mahoning County Judge Scott Krichbaum presided over the hearing to determine whether Barnhart should be labeled a sexual predator: a person who both committed a sexually oriented offense and will likely do so again in the future. "The only remaining issue," reads the judgement entry from the hearing, "is whether or not the defendant is likely to engage in the future in one or more sexually oriented offenses."
"The Court considered the evidence and testimony before it and finds that the state has failed to meet it's (sic) burden of clear and convincing evidence" that Barnhart would likely be a repeat offender, according to Judge Krichbaum's entry. "Therefore, the Court finds the defendant not to be a sexual predator."
In 2008 Barnhart petitioned the state after Ohio enacted the Adam Walsh Act, which retroactively reclassifies sex offenders. He won, because Judge Krichbaum had said he wasn't one.
"Petioner-Defendant was previously adjucated by the Honorable R. Scott Krichbaum not to be a sexual predator," reads the November 2010 judgement in his favor—just weeks after he was released from prison. "As Defendant had no registration requirements prior to the enactment of Ohio's Adam Walsh Act, he has no duty to register going forward."
Of course, the courts never knew about Barnhart's history in the Boy Scouts.
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