A male leader of a Girl Scouts troop in Sportsylvania County, Virginia has been arrested for a variety of sexually related charges. The troop leader was a 47-year-old man who was working with his wife to lead the Sportsylvania Girl Scout group. His total list of charges includes 31 separate felony offenses, 30 for possessing child pornography, and one for "taking indecent liberties with a child under 18." He is currently out on bail, but is due back in court at the end of April. Until then, he is not allowed to leave the area or to have any contact with minors, including his own children.
Suspicions against the Girl Scout leader began when he sent one of his troop members a link to a pornographic website. The recipient, a 14-year-old girl, informed her parents of the inappropriate incident, and they contacted the police. Subsequently, authorities obtained a search warrant to raid the troop leader's home. Perusing his computer, cellphone, and other electronic devices, the police found the evidence they needed: a range of child porn photos that implicated the man as a sexual predator.
While the existing evidence will likely earn the defendant prison time, investigators are still digging deeper, trying to determine whether or not even more serious sex crimes took place at the man's residence. Thankfully, there has so far been no sign that the troop leader had direct sexual contact with any minors. Police have asked troop parents to check their kids' phones and computers for any sign of contact with the defendant.
With the investigation and trial still pending, the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia have issued a statement clarifying that, yes, the defendant did go through the proper background checks before being allowed to lead the Sportsylvania troop. The organization also said that all troops are supervised by a minimum of two troop leaders "not related by birth or marriage to avoid situations that may put girls at risk." In other words, there was a least one other troop leader in Sportsylvania who wasn't the defendant's wife, so the odds that any incidents took place at actual troop meetings or functions are low.
This story underlines just how difficult it is sometimes to spot sexual predators. Sure, once a person who has been caught and charged with a child pornography crime, they are on the sex offender registry and easy to find with a decent background check. But for predators who have been able to keep their habits a secret, there are often no warning signs. For instance, neighbors of the Sportsylvania Girl Scouts troop leader were blindsided to learn of the charges brought against him.