Convicted leader continued with Scouts movement
WARNING: Some language in this story may be considered offensive
A man who was twice-convicted of sex offences against children was welcomed as a member of a Scouts alumni association for decades, even after officials became aware of at least one of his convictions, a CBC News investigation has found.
Even though the organization says there was no contact with youth, Scouts Canada, in a recent interview with the CBC, now admits it was a mistake.
But a Lillooet, B.C., family that suffered damage caused by the abuse, says the acknowledgement gives them little solace.
"I ended up doing nine prison sentences, and having drinking and drug and all those other problems," Christopher Jones told CBC News.
Decades ago, in 1976, his Grade 4 teacher and Scout leader, Michael David Henley, began molesting him. Today, the 44-year-old can't say much about his abuser that isn't loaded with profanity.
"He's a piece of shit, and ah, that's all I'm going to say, you guys don't have to play that, but … I would," says Jones.
It took Jones, who was known as Christopher Aaron as a child, 10 years to tell anyone what Henley did to him.
His mother, Gayle Moore, says the revelation came when she questioned her son on the phone while he was in rehab.
"Were you molested as a child?" she asked her son.
"I said, 'I've been through every relative, every friend, every person I can think of and he said to me – Mom that was all taken care of – you can thank Mike Henley for that.' And it was just like rockets went off in my head," Moore recalls.
Henley eventually pleaded guilty to indecent assault and received a year's probation. In 1994, Moore wrote to Scouts officials to be certain they were aware of what happened.
Moore says the letter she got back made her sick. Henley was still involved in Scouting as part of an adult alumni group for leaders called the Baden Powell Guild. The provincial commissioner wrote that Henley had no direct contact with youth, was undergoing counselling, and appeared determined to stay clear of situations that could result in a recurrence of his crime.
After Henley was convicted of sex assaults against six boys in 1999, he stepped down from his position as editor of the Baden Powell Guild's newsletter, but returned as editor until 2005.
Henley dismisses concern
Now 60 and living in Burnaby, B.C., Henley claims he is no longer a member of the guild. He dismisses any concern.
"That's an adult organization that has nothing to do with kids — it was all historical, the lawsuit was historical, it was all historical," he said.
Steve Kent, chief commissioner for Scouts Canada, said Henley should not have been there at all.
"Even though he did not have any contact with young people, that still doesn't excuse the fact that he's somebody obviously who is not permitted to be a member of Scouts Canada and therefore should not be permitted to be a member of the fellowship organization, even though it is an independent organization."
That's something Gayle Moore has believed for years, while she lamented her son's spiral of self-destruction.
"He was smart, funny, gorgeous, full of life — an active little boy," she said.
"I don't understand it. It's absolutely appalling, and I don't understand it, and I'm outraged. I am outraged," says Moore.
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With files from the CBC's Curt Petrovich, Natalie Clancy, Angela Gilbert