Since the inception of the BSA over a century ago, prominent Americans in diverse walks of life, from filmmaker Steven Spielberg to adventurer Steve Fossett to politicians, were BSA members as youths. Over two-thirds of all astronauts have had some type of involvement in Scouting, and eleven of the twelve men to walk on the Moon were Scouts, including Neil Armstrong and Charlie Duke. Our 38th President Gerald Ford said, "I can say without hesitation, because of Scouting principles, I know I was a better athlete, I was a better naval officer, I was a better congressman, and I was a better prepared President."
Growing up in the 80’s in Miami, Florida was not easy. So, for a young man looking for guidance and the same principles that are supposed to be in tune with the BSA, I joined a Police Explorer program know as Learning for Life within the South Miami Police Department. In the summer of 1985, as a Explorer I was awarded with having over 600 volunteer hours. I loved
my community and enjoyed giving back. In the fall of 1985 I was working at the police station when a Sergeant working in the detective bureau asked if I could help file some reports. This Sergeant began to befriend me and ask me to go on unauthorized ride-alongs to win my trust. On a Saturday afternoon he sent my superior ranking and older explorers on a food run to McDonald’s, which left me alone with him in a closed environment. From that day on I was molested and threatened that he would ruin me if I ever told anyone. In March of 1989 I was the key witness at his trial where he was accused of molesting multiple children some as young as 8 years old.
On my 18th birthday Sgt. Jon Wyatt was sentenced to 2 life sentence and 15 years for his crime. I joined the US Army three months later and had a great career, serving tours in Iraq as well as Kosovo and Bosnia.
Why am I here, and why is this important? Because, I have struggled with this my whole life. I should have come forward to someone sooner so those kids would not have had to go through what I went through.
The BSA failed me. There was no dual supervision or other protection in place to make sure that I was not alone with this individual. Since the mid-1970s, there have been over 100 reported cases of police officers having sex with Explorers, the vast majority of whom were underage. Such incidents have occurred in at least 66 police departments. Learning for Life has created a set of rules governing the Explorer program, which includes a non-fraternization policy between officers (or "adult leaders") and
Explorers. However, it leaves oversight to individual departments. There are no reported cases of Learning for Life revoking a police department's ability to operate an Explorer program over failed oversight leading to one or several incidents of sexual abuse.