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Wapak case in BSA file

October 22, 2012

Of the 57 case files of disallowed volunteers in Ohio, one focuses on an incident in Wapakoneta by a man who later moved to Cambridge, Ohio.

By order of the Oregon Supreme Court, the Boy Scouts of America released Thursday 14,500 pages of “perversion files” complled between 1959 and 1985. The files were shown to a jury in a 2010 Oregon civil suit that the Scouts lost, and the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the files should be made public. After months of objections and redactions, the Scouts and Clark released them.

In those pages included 10 pages regarding a John “Johnny” Johnston Jr., who served as a Scout adviser in Wapakoneta and later moved to Minnesota. The report says the man, who would now be 62 years old, lived in Cambridge in 1974 when he applied to be part of scouting.

In letters sent between Scout directors, the registration and membership said he worked at National Cash Register and was a previous leader with a Wapakoneta scouting program.

Several letters between January and July 1974 between C. Kent Bushong, Scout executive with the Muskingum Valley Council No. 467 and Paul I. Ernst, manager of registration and subscription for Boy Scouts of America in North Brunswick, N.J.

One of the letters, which is dated Jan. 29, 1974, is from Bushong to Charles Means, director of personnel for Boy Scouts of America and included mention of a letter from Scout Executive Palmer Vance of the Shawnee Council in Lima.

The Jan. 29, 1974, letter to Means from Bushong is in reference to John Johnston, who had been in the professional 10 years and the event was about 12 years ago. The letter states, “We were alerted to a potential morals problems with John Johnston as a result of neighborhood gossip from the parents of boys who live in his neighborhood. (Redacted name) told us he has another letter from the police chief (Bill Wolfe) of Wapakoneta, Ohio, indicating that Mr. Johnston would be subject to arrest if he returned there.”

Records at the Wapakoneta Police Department were not readily available Sunday for review since they date back to the 1960s and 1970s.

Bushong suggests this information is sufficient to place Johnston in the Boys Scouts of America’s confidential file.

The letter continues to say they have a letter from then Auglaize County Juvenile Judge James Shaw. Shaw’s correspondence states the testimony he has is hearsay and gossip from neighbors about “John Johnston sharing sleeping bags with neighborhood kids on camp outs. He is also living with a young man about 20-25 years old.”

Shaw’s letter references a hearing on Jan. 12, 1970, regarding a 17-year-old youth who was interrogated about “unnatural sex acts with one John R. Johnston Jr., a former past adviser of Explorer Post 164 in Wapakoneta.”

The letter states after being threatened with a lie detector test, the 17-year-old admitted to “sexual perversion acts upon his person” when he was 11 and taking place for the next four years. The youth denied any activity during the past year, the letter states, with Johnston living in Minnesota.

Johnston requested the boy submit to the lie detector test but the boy refused, according to Shaw’s letter dated Jan. 13, 1970.

The Associated Press obtained copies of the files weeks ahead of Thursday’s release and conducted an extensive review of them, but agreed not to publish the stories until the files were released.

The new files are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after their founding in 1910. The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations.

On many occasions the files succeeded in keeping pedophiles out of Scouting leadership positions — the reason they were collected in the first place.

But in many instances — more than a third, according to the Scouts’ own count — police weren’t told about the alleged abuse.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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