October 22, 2012
Donald Fricke was remembered as a popular leader among his Milford Boy Scouts.
One of his supervisors in the 1980s said the heavyset volunteer who passed himself off as a clergyman was well-liked by the boys, always willing to donate his time and never was a disciplinary problem.
Except that the supervisor never knew until 1985 that Fricke, who worked as a custodian for the Milford Recreation Department, was convicted and sentenced to probation in 1966 for fondling a Scout during a camping trip. Fricke admitted as much in a 1985 Connecticut Post article.
"Once somebody was found out, they were supposed to be kaput with the Boy Scouts," said Edward Quirk, who served as a volunteer leader with Fricke in the 1980s. "The name was supposed to go on "a black list."
Apparently it went into a black hole instead.
And Fricke, who died at 47 in 1991, found his way back into Scouting in 1979 and stayed on for six years until his prior act was discovered. No allegations of immoral conduct were made against him except for that 1966 incident.
Fricke's name is among 22 Connecticut residents in files of 1,247 volunteer leaders from across the country accused or convicted of immoral acts from 1959 to 1985. The files were maintained by the Boy Scouts of America and released to an Oregon jury in 2010; on Thursday, the Oregon Supreme Court allowed the public release of those files, which fill 14,500 pages.
Still, the majority of the allegations in the Boy Scouts file date back to the 1960s. With the passing of nearly a half century, many of the alleged Connecticut abusers are deceased. Attempts by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers to reach friends, neighbors and acquaintances were stymied by the passage of time.
The allegations against Connecticut residents range from a former U.S. Marine who lived in Fairfield and was caught -- but not booked for possession of pornographic literature in 1969 -- to a 20-year-old Old Greenwich assistant Scoutmaster who wrote letters suggesting homosexual relationships with some of his charges in 1966. Then there is the Darien assistant Scoutmaster who in 1965 and 1966 engaged in oral sex with one of his Scouts. None of the three were ever charged with a crime.
After an assistant Scoutmaster from West Haven resigned in 1967 for allegedly unzippering an 11-year-old's pants and using his mouth and hands to demonstrate pressure points, he was allowed back into a leadership role in the organization in 1980.
Once back in, the man, who was not criminally charged, was watched by his Boy Scout supervisors for two years. They saw "no reason to restrict his association with Boy Scouts of America," according to the released files.
The Connecticut Yankee Council, which oversees Scouting activities in the state, referred calls regarding the materials to the national BSA headquarters in Irving, Texas. In a prepared statement, BSA President Wayne Perry said the organization today "is a leader" in preventing child abuse.
"The BSA requires background checks; administers comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth, and parents; and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse," he said. "We have continuously enhanced our multi-tiered policies and procedures to ensure we are in line with and, where possible, ahead of society's knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention."
The documents open a window on the organization's leadership efforts to deal with volunteers accused or convicted of immoral acts. The Scouts were founded in 1910 by a group including Ernest Thompson Seton, who lived in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich.
The information detailing the alleged immoral activity is contained in files the Boys Scouts of America termed "ineligible volunteer files" and were kept in its Texas headquarters. The files include allegations, court documents, recommendations, statements from victims, letters of support, newspaper articles and resignation documents. The intent of the files was to keep these banned former volunteers from ever being allowed back.
In most cases that worked; for Fricke and the West Haven assistant Scoutmaster, it apparently did not.
Eleven of the Connecticut accused are from New Haven and Fairfield counties. Many were never charged with a crime.
A former Scoutmaster in Bridgeport Troop 35 who admitted to his Pomperaug Council executive in 1968 that he sexually molested one of his Scouts on several occasions. The accused was never arrested and died in 2004.
Dennis Ellsworth, a former Newtown resident who was affiliated with Troop 5 in West Haven, who was arrested in 1963 by Fairfield police on a morals charge involving an 8-year-old boy. At the time, Ellsworth was a speech therapist in the Fairfield school system.
Ellsworth, who was 41 at the time of his arrest, was found guilty in 1963 of a disorderly conduct charge and sentenced to 30 days in prison, followed by two years of probation, according to the disclosed documents. His name was removed from the troop's roster of members in 1967 -- about four years after his initial arrest.
The documents list Ellsworth as a "committee man," which, according to a local Boy Scout official, means he was likely a parent volunteer working behind the scenes. Typically, committee members don't have a great deal of direct involvement with the scouts, said Tony Vogl, the director of development for the Boy Scouts of America Yankee Connecticut Council. He added that Troop 5, which Ellsworth was once associated with, is no longer active.
And there's David Hutchings Dailey, a former New Milford "neighborhood commissioner'' involved with what was then Boy Scout Troop 26 in District 3. He voluntarily resigned his role after a second arrest on morals charges in 1968 -- just two years after a similar charge. Neither involved Boy Scouts, according to the released documents.
Dailey underwent treatment at the former Fairfield Hills Hospital.
Several former Scout leaders interviewed Friday said they had no recollection of Dailey, nor did they wish to comment on the recent revelations.
Ten-year Scoutmaster Joe Vita, an Eagle Scout who has three sons who are Eagle Scouts, said he never knew Dailey, but was upset to read about the allegations of sexual crimes that were kept hidden.
"It's troubling,'' Vita admitted. "I can't believe that type of thing goes on.''
Vita touted the Boy Scouts as a "fabulous organization'' and if these offenses occurred and were then covered up, "that is disturbing to me.''
"My job is to give boys a great experience, make them leaders and keep them safe,'' Vita said.
As Scoutmaster for his troop sponsored through St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Vita said he is vigilant about making sure all leaders have background checks and that no one other than parents of the Scouts are able to assist Vita with troop activities.
"We don't just take anybody,'' he said.
The Boy Scouts organization has a youth protection class that leaders must attend, and his troop also requires a "Protecting God's Children" course every two years.
Over the years, Vita said the national Boy Scouts organization has become stricter about these rules because they do not want to jeopardize the safety of either the boys or the leaders.
In his troop, he said there are always at least two adults interacting with boys at any given time.
He said the only accusation ever leveled against him is that he strives to be "too safe.''
From CT Post. by Michael P Mayko. Staff writers John Burgeson, Nanci G. Hutson, Frank MacEachern and Dirk Perrefort contributed to this report.