- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2001

A former New York Boy Scouts leader, charged with sexually abusing a troop member repeatedly during the mid-1990s, was the subject of previous molestation complaints dating back more than 20 years, a Scouts official said yesterday.
Michael G. Dowd, attorney for an Eagle Scout, now 20, who was the reported victim in the newly returned indictment against Jerrold Schwartz, of Manhattan, said the Boy Scouts disregarded complaints linking the scoutmaster with child sexual abuse first reported in 1978.
Mr. Dowd said the failure to remove Mr. Schwartz in his first year as scoutmaster of Troop 666 gave the defendant the opportunity to abuse his client and, perhaps, 15 or more other boys.
Mr. Schwartz, a married 42-year-old, was indicted last week on 36 counts of sodomy. He has pleaded not guilty.
Don York, spokesman for the Boy Scouts' New York council, said the Boy Scouts neither ignored nor dismissed the initial complaints of sexual abuse by Mr. Schwartz filed by the parents of an 8-year-old boy in 1978. "The troop looked into it, found it to be unsubstantiated and took no action," Mr. York said yesterday in a telephone interview. Mr. Schwartz held onto his leadership post during and after the investigation.
Mr. York said the troop failed to refer the complaint to the Greater New York Council, which would have investigated further.
Criminal cases against Mr. Schwartz, and others in leadership roles in the Scouts, suggest that the volunteer organization continues to battle incidents of child sexual abuse. Mr. Schwartz is one of several ex-scoutmasters from around the country — including in Massachusetts, Tennessee, California and Utah — charged with such offenses.
"The ban against gay leaders in the Boy Scouts is irrelevant. Being gay doesn't mean you are a pedophile," said Mr. Dowd.
Mr. Dowd said Mr. Schwartz is "addicted to candy, and he operated two candy stores." One was his Boy Scouts troop; the other is a company he runs in Colorado, Adventure Trails Inc., which organizes ski trips and educational programs for children.
The indictment returned against Mr. Schwartz came as a result of a taped conversation he had with Mr. Dowd's 20-year-old client. "On the tape, he admitted to having oral and anal sex with a 13-year-old," said Mr. Dowd.
In 1993, the victim of the purported 1978 abuse took his 15-year-old complaint to the council himself.
"The council took his accusations very seriously and immediately removed Schwartz as scoutmaster," pending the outcome of the investigation into the former Scout's complaint, said Mr. York.
He said the council also referred the matter to the offices of New York State Child Protective Services and to the New York police. The former said it could do nothing, and the police probe yielded no charges, said Mr. York.
In addition, he said, the Boy Scouts council formed a committee that looked into the complaint for several months.
"No further allegations [were made against Mr. Schwartz], who was very well-respected," Mr. York said in a telephone interview.

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