Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Series Part 1 – Pedophile Probation

By Steve Crew and Peter Janci, June 25, 2015

Northern Star Council SignBeginning in the 1910s, the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”) began tracking pedophiles who operated in Scouting, creating what they named “the Perversion files”—internal secret files shared with no one that document the problem of sexual abuse in Scouting and the Boy Scouts’ response. Over the years the Boy Scouts destroyed thousands of its Perversion files, but many were preserved and new files are created every year. At least thirty-nine Minnesota Perversion files from 1960-1991 still exist and have been made public through child sexual abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts. This blog is Part 1 in a six-part series examining the Boy Scouts’ Minnesota Perversion files.

As part of its Perversion file system designed to identify pedophiles and exclude them from Scouting, BSA also created a parallel probation program for pedophiles in an effort to keep them involved with Scouting. As described in BSA’s Procedures for Maintaining Standards of Leadership, if a man was accused of sexually abusing a Scout, Scout officials would often allow him to continue working with children on a probationary basis, with no notification to the Scouts who would be in contact with the man, or to the parents of those Scouts. If the man was not caught re-offending for one or two years, he would be taken off of probation. Unfortunately for many boys in Scouting, BSA’s pedophile probation program was another disaster associated with the culture of secrecy surrounding BSA’s institutional sexual abuse problem.

Paul Levang — Vadnais Heights, Minnesota (1970)

Unmarried and childless Paul Levang was a truck driver who liked to spend time with Boy Scouts. He served as Scoutmaster of Troop 212 in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. In 1970, a Scout official wrote BSA headquarters to report that Levang had been arrested for sexually abusing multiple children, noting also that he “is on probation from the same charges.” BSA headquarters wrote back asking for more details on Levang, stating, “[t]his information will be important as future reference and will serve to strengthen our position should we decide to refuse this man’s registration.” Probation was always an option.

Richard Hokanson — Rochester, Minnesota (1983)

In the early 1980s, Scoutmaster Richard Hokanson sexually assaulted between 18 and 23 boys in Rochester, Minnesota Troop 210. Despite conducting its own investigation—including a five-page single spaced report from a Scout official, and nineteen additional pages of material documenting Hokanson’s crimes, arrest, prosecution, and BSA’s responses to these events— BSA would not ban Hokanson from Scouting. Instead, BSA put Hokanson on its probation program out of fear that BSA could be sued for “slander in case he was not convicted[.]”

Donald Leonard Keys & “Mr. Sheehan” — Twin Cities, Minnesota (1970)

In 1970, after serving a little more than a month as Assistant Scoutmaster of St. Paul Troop 18, Donald Leonard Keys was arrested and charged for impersonating a police officer and tying up and sexually assaulting a 17 year-old boy. While Keys did not request probation, his Perversion file notes that a Scout official serving the Twin Cities had “met with the Troop Committee of Troop 159 . . . and we have agreed that Mr. Sheehan will continue to serve as Scoutmaster ‘on probation’ until 1972.” There is no followup to how Mr. Sheehan’s probation period went because BSA destroyed this Perversion file.

If you have any information about any of the following Boy Scout leaders, we would like to speak with you on a confidential basis:

  • Paul Levang — Vadnais Heights Troop 212
  • Richard Hokanson — Rochester Troop 210
  • Donald Leonard Keys — St. Paul Troop 18
  • “Mr. Sheehan” — Twin Cities Area Troop 159

About the Authors:

SteveCrewAttorney-250x250Steve Crew is an attorney with the Portland law firm of Crew Janci LLP.  Steve was a member of the trial team that achieved a $18.5 million verdict against the Boy Scouts of America in a sexual abuse case.   Steve has been a trial lawyer for over 35 years and he focuses his practice on helping survivors of childhood sexual abuse against predatory pedophiles and the institutions of trust that enable pedophiles to get access to children, including the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, the Mormon Church, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

PeterJanciAttorney-250x250Peter Janci is also an attorney with the Portland law firm of Crew Janci LLP.  Steve was a member of the trial team that achieved a $18.5 million verdict against the Boy Scouts of America in a sexual abuse case.  Peter has represented more than one hundred victims of sexual abuse over nearly a decade where he aggressively opposed large and powerful institutions, including: the Catholic Church; the Mormon Church; the Boy Scouts of America; federal, state and local governments; and other public and private institutions of trust.

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