BSA Commends Scouts for Immediately Reporting Alleged Homosexual Abuse at Florida Camp
by Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
The Boy Scouts of America (scouting.org) organization's comprehensive child protection policy paid off in a recent incident involving four Pennsylvania Scouts who were attending a camp in the Florida Keys.
During a scuba diving class at Florida Sea Base Camp in Islamorada, the 14- and 15-year-old boys were allegedly sexually abused by their instructor, Keith Walker. The 26-year-old Miami man, who had previously passed a criminal background check and had been teaching at the scuba diving camp for three summers and one spring session, also lived on the camp grounds.
Boy Scouts of America national spokesman Greg Shields notes that Boy Scouts are trained to recognize, resist, and report child abuse, and the four Philadelphia-area boys did just that. He says when Walker allegedly tried to fondle the boys, they immediately went and reported what they had experienced to their scoutmaster, who then reported the incident to the head of the camp.
According to a Miami Herald report, the alleged abuse occurred in a dive tank during a scuba certification program attended by a group of eight teenage boys. Walker allegedly singled out four of the boys and took them, one by one, to a section of the tank away from their group, where the victims say the inappropriate touching occurred. When this was reported to the camp's general manager, the diving instructor was promptly fired and told to vacate the premises.
"The head of the camp had this individual evicted from the property within an hour; and we immediately reported it to the Department of Child and Family of the State of Florida and the local sheriff's office," Shields says.
Walker was arrested earlier this month and has been charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor. He is currently being held on a $150,000 bond.
Shields feels the recent case highlights the BSA's dedication to educating all scouts about child abuse, as well as the importance of having reliable methods for selecting good leaders. And he says the scouting organization also employs specific barriers to abuse.
"At no time should a child be alone with a leader, and we promise to promptly report anything we understand to be a problem. And then finally, we take swift action, just as in this case [in Florida]. This individual was off our property and separated from the Boy Scouts within an hour," the BSA spokesman says.
The Boy Scouts of America is commending the four scouts for their courage and quick response in reporting the alleged abuse.