A former Ohio Boy Scout leader admits on social media that he molested children and abused teenage boys. The Chillicothe Gazette reports pastor and teacher Bill McKell posted an open letter on his Facebook account responding to allegations of sexual abuse that recently circulated around social media.
The allegations against McKell first came about after the Chillicothe Police Department distributed an online report, detailing a two-year investigation looking into allegations of sexual abuse by McKell. The investigation included the testimonies of 12 victims, each alleging the former Scoutmaster sexually abused them as youths.
The letter, posted in response to the allegations on July 12, opened with the line "My name is Bill McKell and I am a child molester." McKell says that from his late teens to early thirties he had inappropriate contact with young men.
"Every 12-step program begins with admission,” the post said. “I have been one who abused teenage boys. As far as I am able to tell, it is a disease of the mind not unlike alcoholism or drug addiction. It is a sickness that can never be cured or healed, only recovered from. That being said, there is no excuse for what I have done.”
McKell goes on to say the police report should have been kept private, since the investigation is still ongoing and he has not been charged with crimes or had the chance to present a legal defense. In the post he says he is not upset that the report release “has driven [him] to this admission.” Instead, he says he is upset because the names and experiences of his accusers are displayed on social media.
“I sincerely apologize and seek the forgiveness of each person I have caused to suffer hurt and shame,” the post related. “You were among my closest friends and I abused your friendship and betrayed your trust. I am truly sorry. I also wish to seek the forgiveness of your parents, spouses, children and any others who have suffered from the scars I have inflicted.”
The post has been deleted from McKell’s page.
Backlash Over McKell’s Confession
However, many on social media who saw the letter responded negatively, saying McKell offered no apology for his actions.
"This is a superbly crafted statement to try to gain sympathy. It won't work," said Brandon Lawson, a Chillicothe resident. Lawson alleges that McKell assaulted him as a boy when he was an Eagle Scout in Troop 5. "You didn't abuse your friends, you abused children. You weren't equal with us, you were a father figure to us. And you used it to prey on us."
Lawson also called out McKell for targeting children from broken homes to enforce his role of a father figure.
While both local and federal authorities are conducting investigations over McKell, he has not been formally charged with the crimes. The Boy Scouts of America responded to the allegations against McKell in a formal statement.
"This individual was added to our Volunteer Screening Database over 25 years ago following allegations of inappropriate behavior," said a representative for the National BSA. "This bars him from participation in any Scouting activities, regardless of where they occur."
McKell was fired from his position as CEO of Horizon Telecoms, Inc. on July 9, the company saying they planned to cooperate with local authorities with the continued investigation.
“The Horizon Board of Directors has terminated the employment of Chief Executive Officer Bill McKell,” said Board President Ted Mocarski. “While we cannot comment on the circumstances surrounding the termination of Mr. McKell’s employment, we assure you that Horizon takes seriously its commitment to address all matters that come to its attention in a swift and appropriate manner.”