By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
Yocona Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which covers 12 Northeast Mississippi counties, was not mentioned in the 15,000-page “perversion file” recently released by an Oregon Supreme Court civil lawsuit.
The file contains sexual abuse allegations in Boy Scout troops from 1959 until 1985, with a handful from later years.
It’s unclear the extent of what’s happened or been reported since then, except the indictment of at least one Scouting volunteer in Lee County in 2012.
The 49-year-old man is charged with sexual battery stemming from an alleged 2010 incident with a Scout. He is still in the Lee County jail awaiting trial.
Rick Chapman, Yocona’s Scout executive, said precautionary steps include criminal checks on employees and volunteers, along with references into a national list of all volunteers who have had sexual misconduct allegations made against them.
Chapman said before anyone is approved as a volunteer, they have to be recommended by the chartering organization, such as a church, school or civic club sponsor for the troop, and are background checked through the council.
In an instance like the alleged 2010 misconduct, Chapman said the council’s policy is to immediately turn the allegations over to law enforcement.
Once an allegation is made, the accused individual is immediately removed from any Scouting position and put on a national list so they can’t volunteer in other troops.
“For us, we’re vouched on the youth and families and leaders in the 12 counties of Northeast Mississippi and are making sure they know everything we do for the protection of the youth here,” Chapman said. “We have to provide a safe environment before we can even begin to impact a boy’s life – that’s the starting point, and it’s our commitment.”
The Yocona Area Council consists of 115 troops and more than 1,000 volunteers who serve 4,000 youth in Alcorn, Benton, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Prentiss, Pontotoc, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union and Yalobusha counties.