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  • Local men named in abuse files

    Court ordered Boy Scouts to release 'perversion files'
  • A handful of Southern Oregon men were named in the Boy Scout "perversion files" released Thursday. Among them were men who were convicted of serious sexual crimes involving children.
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  • A handful of Southern Oregon men were named in the Boy Scout "perversion files" released Thursday. Among them were men who were convicted of serious sexual crimes involving children.
    The documents included police reports filed by Oregon State Police, the Medford Police Department and with the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.
    The cases occurred in the 1970s and 1980s and included men from Medford, Cave Junction, Ashland and Eagle Point.
    The documents were released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court after the Boy Scouts lost a 2010 civil suit. The documents were shown during the trial, and the Supreme Court ruled they should be made public.
    Unlike in other areas of the country, where local authorities and Scout leaders appear to have shielded some scoutmasters who molested children, the records show the five local men named in the documents were arrested and culled from the ranks.
    For this story, the Mail Tribune named only the men for which a conviction record could be found.
    The oldest local report was dated in 1970 and involved a 22-year-old Medford service station attendant who registered as a scoutmaster with the Crater Lake Council in September 1969. Three months later, he was no longer with the Scouts after the council learned he had sodomy charges pending against him. It is not known whether the alleged crime involved a Boy Scout, or whether the man was ever convicted.
    Then-Council Scout Executive Bill Petersen sent a letter to the organization's registration service office in Texas stating that the man was not to be accepted as a scoutmaster after the charges were revealed.
    "We have placed this information in our files and have taken steps to have his name deleted from the Troop roster," the registration service office wrote back in February 1970.
    In 1984, a 42-year-old former member of an Explorer Post sponsored by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department who had been convicted of first-degree sodomy tried to start a new Explorer Post with the Crater Lake Council.
    Richard Allen Backes had been arrested in October 1978 for molesting neighborhood boys in his Medford home. He was convicted in 1979. It is not known whether he served time for his crime.
    "He even visited our High Adventure Summer Camp and recruited potential members for the new post," according to a letter then-Council Scout Executive Ed Weiseth sent to the Scouts' Texas headquarters in 1984.
    The Jackson County sheriff learned of Backes' criminal record and "met with Mr. Backes and has made it very clear that he will in no way be associated with the Sheriffs office Exploring Program," according to Weiseth's letter.
    In 1985, William George Wellhausen, then 56, a unit commissioner for a troop based in Cave Junction since 1977, pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and was ordered to serve five years' probation and pay a $4,000 fine.
    Wellhausen was convicted of molesting a young girl who was a foster child in his home. His file contained a transcribed confession to Oregon State Police detectives.
    In 1985, troop member Gerald Wayne Gunter of Ashland pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges and was ordered to spend six months in jail with five years' probation.
    Both Wellhausen and Gunter were removed from Scouting in 1985 and files started to ensure they could not register again, according to the documents.
    Another database of Boy Scout secretive files compiled by the L.A. Times mentions that an Eagle Point scoutmaster admitted to entering the tents of sleeping Boy Scouts and sexually abusing them in 1988.
    The Boy Scouts' documents say he was convicted of this crime and placed on the Scouts' "perversion" list, barring him from rejoining the Scouts in any capacity, but the Mail Tribune could not immediately verify his conviction. Unlike the other men's files, there was no supporting documents available.
    Reach Mail Tribune reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.
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