By John Stevens
Last updated at 10:54 AM on 30th October 2011
The Boy Scouts has been accused of covering up the abuses of a paedophile who was repeatedly allowed back as a leader despite admitting to abusing boys in his care.
Newly released documents show Boy Scouts of America officials didn’t call police after he admitted molesting three boys and welcomed him back as a leader even after he was kidnapped a boy in a stolen plane.
Turley, now 58, said he is surprised at how many times he got away with it.
An investigation has found that Rick Turley molested at least 15 children in Southern California and British Columbia over two decades, most of whom he met through American and Canadian Scouting.
‘It was easy,’ he told CBC News. He said that he thinks if the police had been called in 1979 when he confessed to abusing three boys it ‘probably would have put a stop to me years and years ago.’
Instead, he ‘went back to the Scouts again and again as a leader and offended against the boys,’ he told the station.
Turley is one of more than 5,000 suspected child molesters named in confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America.
The organisation had long recommended that troops kept abuse allegations a secret.
In Turley’s earlier known sexual abuse in 1971, he met a 10-year-old boy while working as a truck driver on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
He offered to take Joey Day to cubs, but instead took him to a nearby lake where he coerced him into skinny dipping and molested him.
Over the next two years, instead of taking the boy to cub meetings, he took him to his apartment where he plied him alcohol, showed him pornography and abused him.
When the boy tried to tell his father about the abuse, he was beaten.
In January 1975, Turley visited a Scout troop in Orange County and asked if an 11-year-old boy could show him around, saying he was ‘one of Canada’s top Scout leaders.
He shared a sleeping bag with Eddy Iris in the mountains, before taking him to the airport where he stole a plane and after taking off reportedly told the boy: ‘You do realise you’ve been kidnapped, don’t you?’
When the plane ran out of fuel and made an emergency landing, Turley was arrested and pleaded guilty to child stealing.
He was committed to Patton State Hospital as a ‘mentally disordered sex offender.’
After 18 months he was released on probation and ordered to return to Canada, but he instead got a job at a Boy Scout camp close to the hospital and worked at camps in San Bernardino and San Diego counties for the next three summer.
By 1978 he had become a programme director at a Scout Camp in San Diego County. He persuaded the leader of a troop to let his son and two other boys stay at the camp for an extra night.
When they went home they reported that they had been arrested. Turley admitted the offences but officials decided not to report them to police.
‘We were following exactly the national recommendations of the Boy Scouts of America and its board who set up the rules,’ Buford Hill, a former Orange County Scouting official told the LA Times.
‘You do not want to broadcast to the entire population that these things happen. You take care of it quietly and make sure it never happens again.’
Turley returned to British Columbia where he became a Scout Master again.
At least two Canadian Scout leaders reported that Turley had boys share his tent on trips.
In the mid 1980s officials decided rather than calling police or forcing Turley to step down that he should be transferred to another troop.
In 1995, Turley was arrested when his girlfriend told police that he was sexually attracted to children.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison, reduced to five on appeal, after he was convicted of five counts of molesting children.
In 2000, while out on parole he was caught trying to coerce two boys into a relationship and was sent back to prison for two years.
Turley now says that he is able to control his behaviour.
When questioned by CBC News at a motel in Alberta where he now works he said that ‘it’s hard to put a number’ on how many boys he abused.
Asked if he had a son, would he send him to Scouts, Turley said: ‘No, it’s still going on and will probably always go on.’
A Scouts spokesman told the LA Times: ‘The BSA has continued to enhance its youth protection efforts as society has increased its understanding of the dangers children face.’