The Never-Ending Pain of the Boy Scouts' 'Perversion Files' 

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"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.

Thomas Barnhart -- Boy Scouts file

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