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

20-year-old Lee Dalton with his fifth grade class in 1961 in Burton, Ohio
20-year-old Lee Dalton with his fifth grade class in 1961 in Burton, Ohio

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.

About The Author

Doug Brown

Doug Brown is a staff writer at Scene with a passion for public records laws and investigative reporting. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., he has an M.A. in journalism from the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a B.A. in political science from Hiram College. Prior to joining Scene,...
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