Beginning 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 have been made public through child sexual abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts. This blog is Part 6 in a six-part series examining the Boy Scouts’ Minnesota Perversion files.
Bernard Permar — International Falls, Minnesota (1978)
Bernard Permar was an adult volunteer in Cub Scout Pack 151 in International Falls. Scouting officials discovered that he had been convicted of felony child molestation committed in Baudette.
Gerhard Voll — St. Paul Area, Minnesota (1979)
In 1979, Gerhard Voll was banned from Scouting and Troop 164 after he was investigated and criminally charged based on allegations that he had molested several children in the St. Paul area.
Dale Lawrence Astleford — Bloomington, Minnesota (1984)
In January of 1982, Dale Lawrence Astleford was arrested in connection with his sexual abuse of an 11- and 13-year-old boy over several years. Police searching Astleford’s home discovered evidence of “a nationwide network for the distribution of [pornographic] photographs of boys” and that Astleford’s involvement in child pornography appeared to have been ongoing for ten years. Police recovered “as many as 250 to 300 pictures” of the 13-year-old victim. While news reports described Astleford as “active in the Boy Scouts” and once having “sponsored a Scout Explorer post,” local Scout officials appear to have downplayed Astleford’s involvement in Scouting. In one internal memoranda titled “Dale Astelford Incident” a Scout official noted that, “KSTP TV called . . . asked for Astleford’s involvement – I said he was not a registered Scouter. He asked for name of Post and members names which I refused to give him.” BSA headquarters completed Astleford’s Perversion file in March of 1984, two years after first receiving news reports of his arrest.
Robert Gilbert — Eagan, Minnesota (1984)
Robert Gilbert served as Scoutmaster of St. Paul Troop 593. In 1984, he was banned from Scouting after being convicted of two charges of 2nd degree sexual abuse.
Patrick Joseph Melbourne, Fred Dravis, Samuel Owen, Darrell Palank, Robert Gunter, and Michael Cain — Twin Cities Area, Minnesota (1987)
Patrick Joseph Melbourne’s Perversion file is an open and shut affair. In 1987, law enforcement contacted BSA officials to notify them that Melbourne had been convicted of sexually abusing a child in 1983. BSA then banned Melbourne from Hastings Cub Scout Pack 278 and Scouting in general. But like some other Perversion files, Melbourne’s file makes reference to several other Perversion files that may have been destroyed: “Fred Dravis: Accused of sexual abuse . . . appealed and registration reinstated by Executive Committee sub committee. Samuel Owen: Convicted of fourth degree sexual assault. Darrell Palank: Accused of sexual misconduct while at the Council’s Long Term Camp. Voluntarily Resigned. Robert Gunter: Convicted of indecent exposure. . . . Michael Cain: Convicted of sexual misconduct.
Kenneth John Bobrowske — Howard Lake, Minnesota (1987)
In August of 1986, local officials overseeing Scouting in Howard Lake, Minnesota notified BSA headquarters that adult volunteer Kenneth John Bobrowske of Troop 494 should be placed in the Perversion files following his arrest and prosecution related to child sexual abuse involving “8 to 10 victims.” In July of 1987, nearly a year after the initial report, BSA headquarters completed Bobrowske’s file.
Alfred Sufka — St. Cloud, Minnesota (1988)
In 1988, BSA headquarters banned Alfred Sufka—an adult volunteer in St. Cloud Cub Scout Pack 13—for sexual battery committed against an underage babysitter.
Richard “Butch” Carlson — Bayport, Minnesota (1988)
In 1988, BSA headquarters banned Richard “Butch” Carlson—an adult volunteer in Bayport Troop 113—for inappropriate sexualized behavior and “body contact.”
Donald Smeby — Crystal, Minnesota (1988)
In 1988, BSA headquarters opened a Perversion file on Donald Smeby—Assistant Scoutmaster in Crystal Troop 365—for “running around in the woods nude with youth members.”
Robert Messersmith — Brooklyn Center, Minnesota (1988)
In 1988, Robert Messersmith—an adult volunteer in Brooklyn Center-area Scouting—was banned by BSA for “[a]lleged sexual misconduct w/ children.” Newspaper reports of Messersmith’s arrest and prosecution described police seizing “four large albums” of child pornography, involving “at least nine” boys between the ages of 12 and 15, some of whom were Boy Scouts Messersmith had targeted through his work in Scouting. Much of the child pornography had been taken during “boating and camping trips around the state.”
Gary Poncin — Windom, Minnesota (1989)
Gary Poncin, Scoutmaster of Windom Troop 10, was asked to leave Scouting in 1989 after he was charged with criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. A handwritten note in his file states that, “There are also allegations involving a Scout and former Scout from several years ago[.]”
Arthur Campina — St. Cloud, Minnesota (1989)
Assistant Scoutmaster Arthur Campina of St. Cloud Troop 2 was banned from Scouting in 1989 for sexually abusing a physically and mentally disabled child.
Wesley Kruse — Duluth, Minnesota (1991)
In 1991, the BSA excluded Wesley Kruse—a Scoutmaster in Duluth Troop 45—for sexually abusing a child.
Kenneth Knoll — Elgin, Minnesota (1991)
In 1991, the BSA excluded Kenneth Knoll—an Assistant Scoutmaster in Elgin Troop 65—for sexually abusing a child.
Anonymous Perversion Files — Various locations, Minnesota (1992-2004)
According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, unreleased Minnesota Perversion files exist that are associated with the following years, cities, and Scouting groups:
|1992||Sleepy Eye||Minnesota||Troop 99|
|1993||Coon Rapids||Minnesota||Pack 524|
|1993||St. Cloud||Minnesota||Pack 106|
|1993||St. Paul||Minnesota||Troop 100|
|1994||Blue Earth||Minnesota||Pack 33|
|1994||Elton Hills||Minnesota||Troop 98|
|1994||Elton Hills||Minnesota||Pack 298|
|1996||Forest Lake||Minnesota||Troop 732|
|1996||New Ulm||Minnesota||Troop 51|
|1996||New Ulm||Minnesota||Explorer 2444|
|1996||St. Paul||Minnesota||Troop 219|
|1997||Fergu Falls||Minnesota||Pack 331|
|1997||St. Paul||Minnesota||Troop 115|
|1998||Sauk Centre||Minnesota||Explorer 2560|
|1998||St. Cloud||Minnesota||Troop 14|
|2000||St. Paul||Minnesota||Troop 592|
|2000||West St. Paul||Minnesota||Troop 105|
|2001||St. Paul||Minnesota||Troop 12|
|2003||Apple Valley||Minnesota||Troop 293|
|2004||St. Louis Park||Minnesota||Pack 379|
If you have any information about any of the following Boy Scout leaders, we would like to speak with you on a confidential basis:
- Bernard Permar — International Falls Cub Scout Pack 151
- Gerhard Voll — St. Paul Area Troop 164
- Dale Lawrence Astleford — Bloomington
- Robert Gilbert — St. Paul Troop 593
- Patrick Joseph Melbourne — Hastings Cub Scout Pack 278
- Fred Dravis — Twin Cities Area
- Samuel Owen — Twin Cities Area
- Darrell Palank — Twin Cities Area
- Robert Gunter — Twin Cities Area
- Michael Cain — Twin Cities Area
- Kenneth John Bobrowske — Howard Lake Troop 494
- Alfred Sufka — St. Cloud Cub Scout Pack 13
- Richard “Butch” Carlson — Bayport Troop 113
- Donald Smeby — Crystal Troop 113
- Robert Messersmith — Brooklyn Center
- Gary Poncin — Windom Troop 10
- Arthur Campina — St. Cloud Troop 2
- Wesley Kruse — Duluth Troop 45
- Kenneth Knoll — Elgin Troop 65
Call Noaker Law Firm (612) 839-1080
About the Authors:
Steve 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.
Peter 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.