The Boy Scouts' Police Problem

Dozens of teenage Explorers have been sexually abused by cops. Should Scouts share the blame?

Citing that oversight, an arbitrator found that Meade hadn't been properly informed, and reduced his punishment to a written reprimand. Bethany wasn't so lucky. Expelled from the Explorers, her career in law enforcement was over before it had begun.

Six years later, when an outgoing 18-year-old brunette with chipmunk cheeks and a fondness for police officers signed up as an Explorer, the integrity of Bremerton's police department would again be put to the test. "Natalie" quickly made an immediate impression on both the departmental rank-and-file and the top brass, friending officers on Facebook, chatting with them online, and going on ride-alongs as often as she could.

Having built up her online network, Natalie sought to hang out with her new police friends away from work. One officer took her to dinner and a movie, invited her over, and allowed her to spend the night in his bed, but denied having sex with her. Another, Captain Tom Wolfe, took Natalie to a pizza joint, where he was seen caressing her inner thigh in public (an assertion he denies), and gave her special assignments that allowed her to bring home confidential paperwork. A third officer, Brandon Greenhill, admitted to inviting Natalie to his house while his wife was out of town and, as a movie played on TV, having sex with her.

Brownsville, Texas, Sergeant Vince Ariaz allegedly forced himself on one underage Explorer and performed oral sex on another
Brownwood Police Department
Brownsville, Texas, Sergeant Vince Ariaz allegedly forced himself on one underage Explorer and performed oral sex on another
San Bernardino deputy Nathan Gastineau allegedly had sex with an underage Explorer
San Bernardino County Sheriff
San Bernardino deputy Nathan Gastineau allegedly had sex with an underage Explorer

The first officer, along with four others suspected of improper relations with Natalie, was cleared of wrongdoing by a subsequent department investigation. Wolfe and Greenhill were found to have broken department rules. But because the no-fraternization policy still hadn't made it into the department's official rule book, both officers, like Meade before them, received nothing more than written reprimands. Like Bethany, Natalie was kicked out of the program.

The investigation did yield one positive result: The department's rule book has since been updated. It is now officially forbidden for Bremerton cops to sleep with Explorers.

"To have an incident like that and not have policies in place is inexcusable," says Jeffrey Noble, the police accountability expert. "But then it happens again? That is outrageous. Someone is asleep at the wheel."


IN THE YEARS SINCE WALKER'S REPORT brought police-on-Explorer sex into the open, Bremerton has not been the only department faced with an embarrassing lack of leadership.

In Tualatin, Oregon, the extent of an Explorer sex case—the second such case in the small department in recent years—which included a female Explorer, three officers, and a state patrolman was not revealed until the Oregonian undertook a months-long investigation. It found that at least a third of Tualatin's 36-member police force had known of the abuse for years before any action was taken.

Two years ago in Madison, Connecticut, police Chief Paul Jakubson resigned after an outside investigation found that he had "deliberately and repeatedly ignored, condoned, and thereby facilitated sexual misconduct" for more than a decade. In addition to turning a blind eye to his officers' having sex with prostitutes, Jakubson allegedly reversed a lieutenant's decision barring an officer from repeatedly taking an underage Explorer on ride-alongs, thereby allowing that officer to continue to have sex with the girl unimpeded.

And earlier this year, in the San Bernardino case, it took months for a complaint from an administrator at a 15-year-old Explorer’s school that a sheriff’s deputy had an unusually close relationship with her to result in an investigation that quickly found that they’d been sleeping together all along. The inquiry found that another deputy was also having sex with a different Explorer. Both men were fired and face criminal charges. A third deputy suspected of similar behavior was allowed to remain in his job.


IN A LOCKED, FIREPROOF CABINET at their national headquarters in Irving, Texas, sits a carefully maintained record of the Boy Scouts' most shameful secrets. "The perversion files," as they're known within the organization, hold the names of more than 5,000 suspected child molesters dating back to the 1940s. The documents gained public notice last year, when a former scout from Oregon, suing the Boy Scouts for hushing up his troop leader's serial molestations in the 1980s, successfully fought to get six boxes of the files—containing the names of some 1,200 suspected pedophiles—entered into evidence. A coalition of news organizations have since sued to make those files public. Citing privacy concerns, the Boy Scouts have resisted. The case is now before Oregon's Supreme Court.

Whether the Boy Scouts keep similar records for the Explorer program is not a question the organization is willing to answer. Thus the same culture of secrecy and scandal-aversion that has earned unflattering comparisons to the Catholic Church appears to be at work at Learning for Life. Beyond the organization's opacity is the matter of how it deals with police departments that have proven themselves incapable of keeping their officers' hands off their Explorers. When asked if Learning for Life has expelled, suspended, or reprimanded any police department with an Explorer program for failing to uphold its rules, Thornton declined to answer directly. "[Police] departments investigate and take appropriate action to help insure the quality of the Exploring program and the safety of the youth in those programs," she responded. "If needed, city and county officials would also get involved."

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As someone with a strong background in the Scouting program, I know child abuse is a extremely serious matter in the organization. Boy Scouts, and I am assuming Explorer posts subsequently, are required to adhere to the "Two Deep" leadership policy. Essentially, it is means of ensuring there is NEVER one on one contact between an adult leader and a youth participant. If this officer was having this girl participate in ride-alongs without a secondary supervisor, it is violation of basic Scouting regulations.

Also... cops should know not to bang kids. Have fun in prison.


Police work attracts a certain personality type. Especially as the police are militarized, the personality type becomes more extreme. As more and more police departments hire combat veterans with no training whatsoever, the characteristics of predatory violence with a sexual component become more and more engrained in the police.

It isn't that there's a "lack of accountability." It's encouraged behavior. As soldiers, with the presumption of civilian life and responsibility, morph into warriors, tasked only to kill and despoil; so the paramilitary police are responsible only to utilize violence on command. Any "excesses" are excused, due to "the pressures of the job." Predatory sexual violence against women and children is all in a day's work.

You can't find troopers who will assault civilians on command without question, who don't also assault the vulnerable at other times in other ways, as well. It's all part of the bargain the Powers That Be have made.

Bottom line; keep your kids away from the cops. Keep your wife away from the cops. Solve your own problems as much as you can, by yourself, among your neighbors. That's the best way to deal with street gangs, the mob, or if your town were occupied by a foreign army. Increasingly, there's no difference.


The local department, as with any Scouting unit, selects and approves the leadership. Total local control. If you can't trust your police department to select leaders with high morals, who can you trust? Penn State is criticized for not reporting sexual abuse incidents to the police. In this case, not only were they reported to the police, the criminal was a police officer. If local leadership fails, how is Learning for Life responsible, as they have no authority over the individuals. Only the police department has authority to act.


Seriously it is encouraged??!! First of all Im speaking on behalf of personal knowledge in at least one of these stories that was listed and let me tell you and it even stated that some of these so called "victims" were over the age of 18! Now I dont disagree the officers actions were still highly inappropriate in many ways and there definitely should be accountability and consequences for them but dont think for one minute that all these girls were innocent curious little officers in training only interested in "Police work". That was not the case in all these cases. One girl in particular only joined to get close to the officers! Just like girls who like military uniformed men, this young lady had a hard on for police officers in uniform and she was over 18 btw! So also with her she also knew who was married and didnt care! It didnt stop her from pressuring to ride along with them and try to use her sexuality to seduce them which she did! She found officers that were vulnerable and ended in victim to her pursuits. The timeline was months, she carefully prepared and patiently waited and slept with whomever would fall for it! It didnt matter who! She is an attention whore! So next time dont quickly assume just the way the news article is trying to make it sound.. But again like I said I can only speak of my intel knowledge of one case, the others who knew! But I guarantee the one case, the girl wasnt some innocent girl pressured to have sex with this big ol' bad cop only trying to victimize young innocent girls! Not in this case! I am not dismissing the officers actions though, they were wrong and yes there should be accountability and consequences and there was and still is everytime the news has to print something about it!