Adam Scheuritzel was a 14-year old Star Scout in Ashford, Conn., when his troop went on a campout in March 1987. After the first night, a younger Scout told Scheuritzel and another youth leader that their scoutmaster had improperly touched an 11- and 12-year-old in their tent.
The youth leaders “went over and talked to them real quick and they were, in fact, inconsolable,” recalled Scheuritzel, now 39. The older boys told their assistant scoutmaster; parents and police were called.
Scoutmaster David Wilson was charged with sexual assault, and more boys came forward with allegations going back months before the campout.
That spring, Scheuritzel hand-wrote a short letter to the advice columnist of Scouting’s magazine:
“... Our scoutmaster has had to leave our troop for molesting two of our younger Scouts. He molested them physically and us mentally. I was wondering if you would put an article in Boys’ Life mentioning this. ... It may help those who kept it to themselves and tell them it wasn’t their fault.”
The letter was never published. But it eventually reached Ernst, the keeper of the confidential files, who created a file on Wilson that day. A note on the letter indicates Scheuritzel got a call from Boy Scout headquarters to reassure him, though he doesn’t recall it.
Wilson pleaded guilty that summer and received a seven-year prison sentence. He died in 2007.
Wilson’s actions devastated the troop, Scheuritzel said. “We got a new scoutmaster, but it (the case) destroyed what we had originally. … The Scouts should have stepped up to the plate then and done something” earlier to stop Wilson.