Boy Scouts wanted child predator's link hidden

Oct. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.
Updated Oct. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.

As a special education teacher, foster parent and president of multiple teacher associations, Mack Arthur Judd shocked Victoria when he was indicted on several sexual assault charges against students in 1984.

Judd, age 40 at the time and a teacher at Patti Welder Intermediate School in the 1980s, pleaded no contest to the charges - indecency with a child, sexual abuse of a child and sexual assault - with three boys, ages 14 or 15, according to the Victoria Advocate archives.

While Judd's positions as a foster parent and teacher were forefront in the media, his role as a Boy Scout scoutmaster for 12 years never came to light.

And, according to documents released Thursday, the glaring omission suited the Boy Scouts of America.

"I was pleased that Scouting received no adverse publicity," Marc Reynerson, executive of the Gulf Coast Council, wrote in a 1984 letter to the Boys Scout national office about Judd's conviction.

The letters about Judd were released as part of what is being called the "perversion files" case in Oregon, a 14,500-page database containing previously confidential information about 5,000 men and a handful of women who were expelled from the Boy Scouts between 1947 and January 2005 on suspicion of sexual abuse. The files have raised questions about whether the Boy Scouts and local officials were more interested in preserving the organization's reputation than in fully investigating sexual assaults against children.

In a series of letters between the Gulf Coast Council and national headquarters, there is no mention of any investigation into Judd's lengthy tenure with the Scouts.

The national office did thank the area council for informing them of Judd's case.

"This information ... will be helpful to us in setting up a file and refusing registration at a later date," wrote Paul Ernst, director of registration, subscription and statistical service for the national office at that time. "This will help us to identify Mr. Judd should he at a later date try to register with us."

Victoria attorney George Filley III was the Victoria County district attorney who prosecuted Judd.

Filley said the case was referred to his office by local law enforcement after a complaint had been received through Children's Services, the equivalent to today's state department of Child Protective Services.

Filley said he recalls the charges originally stemmed from one student who reported seeing Judd sexually involved with another student.

"We scoured the school. We talked to all the special education kids," Filley said.

When Filley learned about Judd's Boy Scouts affiliation, he said, that also raised a red flag.

"I remember discussions with a Boy Scout district officer. My concern was to see if we had anything with the Scouts," Filley said. "They went back and researched, but couldn't find any complaints against Judd."

Filley said the Victoria Police Department led the investigation at the time. Kenneth Rosenquest was Victoria's police chief, but he died in 1995.

"We were looking hard, but we didn't find anything," Filley said.

One Scout's father, Peter Lopez, said his son was in Troop 365 while Judd was scoutmaster, but did not stay with the organization long.

"He dropped out of the Boy Scouts because he felt uneasy about a leader. He felt like he would molest kids; he was that kind of guy," Lopez said, identifying Judd as that leader.

Lopez said his son "felt really bad vibes from him. He felt him touching him and so he dropped out."

Lopez's son was not available for comment.

Another Scout at the time, John Brusenhan, now 46, said Judd was his scoutmaster in Victoria from the time he was 12 until he was 15.

"I never felt uncomfortable, never witnessed any uncomfortable situations, never saw any uncomfortable situations," Brusenhan said. "It was a total shock when all those accusations did come down."

Although he was out of the Scouts when Judd was indicted in 1984, Brusenhan said he remembers being interviewed by detectives.

"They came up to the school and basically took 15 minutes. They asked if at any time during when Mack was a scoutmaster, 'Were there any uncomfortable situations, were there uncomfortable advances?' Again, it was always a total shock," Brusenhan said.

Troop 365 was sponsored by the Victoria Association for Retarded Citizens possibly because of Judd's connection with special education, and Brusenhan said mentally handicapped students were in the troop. He said he was not sure whether everyone was interviewed by investigators.

A Boy Scout parent at the time, who asked that his name not be reported because of the controversy, said neither he nor his son was ever interviewed by police or Boy Scout officials about Judd after the indictments.

Children's advocate Tim Hornback, executive director of Golden Crescent Court Appointed Special Advocates, said the use of confidential files by the Boy Scouts was regrettable.

"It is frightening - the abuse, the covering up by a respected children's organization, and the effects on the children's lives and their communities," Hornback said.

After the release Thursday of the "Ineligible Volunteer Files," Boy Scouts National President Wayne Perry said, "There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong. ... We extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families."

John Beauregard, current Scout executive and chief executive officer for the South Texas Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said the organization's youth protection plan, now in place, is working.

"It's recognized by law enforcement and other national agencies as one of the leading youth safety policies in the nation," he said.

The South Texas Council of the BSA serves 17 counties, including Victoria, with about 8,000 Scouts among its ranks.

Beauregard does not deny child abuse happens within the ranks of the Scouts, but defends the organization's record.

"Fortunately, it's not something that happens very often," he said. "But we are dedicated to stopping abuse and to supporting the victims when it does occur."

Judd, now 68, did not want to talk about the release of the records or his 1984 conviction when he was contacted Friday by the Advocate.

"I'm not going to comment on any of that because none of that was ever even factual anyway," Judd said. Contacted through a cellphone, Judd declined to say in what town he was residing. A relative said he was living in Hallettsville. He is not on a registered sex offenders list because that was created after his conviction.

On July 25, 1984, Judd received three concurrent five-year sentences for the indictments. He was paroled in December 1985.

Judd said he did not want to talk about his time in the Scouts.

"I prefer to be left alone," Judd said. "I run a clean, quiet life. ... I just want what's in the past to stay in the past."

Related stories:

Port Lavaca molestation case kept quiet in 1968, click HERE

Scout files release sparks interest, click HERE



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