A Richmond Heights Boy Scout troop assistant leader was fired in 1979 after three allegations of child sexual abuse surfaced, according to the recently released Boy Scouts “Perversion Files.
The files contain 1,200 cases—including 261 in the St. Louis and St. Charles County area—of suspected sexual abuse as well as efforts by the Boy Scouts, law enforcement and community leaders to shield suspected leaders from consequences.
The Scouts terminated John J. Kelley, of Hazelwood, from his position as assistant Scoutmaster of a Richmond Heights troop after learning of three separate, suspected accounts of sexual assault against scouts during two campouts, according to a statement from a then-14-year-old scout troop member included in the file.
Kelley is currently in custody in St. Louis County Jail, being charged in 2010 with failure to register as a sex offender and possession of child pornography. Patch did not immediately find evidence that the incidents reported in the Boy Scout files were reported to police or prosecuted.
The following information was drawn from the account released from the Boy Scout's previously-confidential files. To read the file for this case in its entirety, click the PDF in the media section of this article.
(Warning: The following information is graphic and sexual in nature.)
In February 1978, the troop camped in a house owned by Kelley. While alone in a room with two other scouts, Kelley made “overt sexual advances” and touched one scouts’ genitals during that night. Due to the redaction of the scouts’ names, it is impossible to tell whether Kelley’s actions were directed at one or both scouts.
The scoutmaster, Dale Kuethe, and another assistant scout master, William Wells, were also on the trip.
Later that night, Kelley performed oral sex and manual masturbation on another scout. The scout said he smelled alcohol on Kelley’s breath.
“Although he was about to fall asleep, Scout (redacted) was fully aware of what was happening but was afraid to do anything about it,” the report states.
Three adults—Kuethe, Wells and Roy Jerden, a committee member— were present on the campout, according to the report.
Between the first and second incident, a scout tried to tell the troop’s senior patrol leader, Dan Lally, but he refused to discuss it.
A scout also tried to tell Wells about the incident at a troop meeting the following month, but the discussion was only one or two sentences, according to the statement.
In April 1978, the troop was camping in tents at St. Francois State Park in Bonne Terre when Kelley entered a tent and attempted to sodomize a scout. The scout coughed, causing Kelley to stop, and the scout left the tent and sat by the campfire until the sun came up.
Scout Executive Russell Hart sent Kelley a letter in April 1979 explaining that his role as an assistant scout leader was cancelled due to “information made available to us from sources we feel to be reliable.”
Hart instructs Kelley to stop from any further involvement with the Boy Scouts.
For more, see Patch's story: .
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or rape, call the 24/7 Safe Connections hotline at 314-531-2003.
Patch editor Joe Scott contributed to this report.