All scouting activities suspended where ineligible volunteer participated
BATON ROUGE- All scouting activities at St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church in Baton Rouge were placed on hold as the WBRZ Investigative Unit was investigating a Cub Scout leader who appeared on a so-called "perversion list" maintained by the Boy Scouts of America.
It comes as a number of other adults were not current with certifications that are required to ensure a safe environment for scouting, the Diocese of Baton Rouge said.
One of those volunteers, David Bencaz, was immediately removed by the Boy Scouts of America when it was discovered he was actively volunteering, but his name was on a list of ineligible volunteers. The list was made public by Paul Mones, an attorney out of Oregon.
"The problem is 99 percent of most Boy Scout cases and sexual abuse cases are settled," Mones said. "When you settle a case it's much easier to keep the documents quiet and under wraps than it would be had they gone to trial."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit could not find anything traceable in the courts tied to Bencaz back in 1989. However, it's documented on the interal "perversion list" that states he is ineligible to volunteer. On the list Bencaz is accused of "inappropriate and excessive attention shown to a 15-year-old boy."
Aidan Reynolds is an Eagle Scout and a former Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 103.
"I'm profoundly disappointed," Reynolds said. "The notion that Boy Scouts of America has a perversion list is very, very, very disappointing and scary. As a scout leader, and father of an Eagle Scout, I believe in the program. It's an important program."
Gary Mertz, Scout Executive for the Istrouma Area Council said no complaints had been filed against Bencaz as a volunteer. However, Bencaz was removed as soon as it was discovered his name was on the list.
Reynolds is praising the Istrouma Area Council for their swift action.
"The local scout office, once they discovered this guy was on the list, they removed him. Which was the right and proper thing to get done," Reynolds said.
Mertz said the Boy Scouts had nothing to do with suspending the scouting activities at St. Jude and referred all questions to the church.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Baton Rouge issued the following statement.
"According to their national charters, cub scouts and boy scouts must have a sponsor organization. That sponsor organization is not always a church, but sometimes it is. In this case, St. Jude is the sponsor for the cub scout pack and the boy scout troop that meet on its campus. Girl scouts are not required to have a sponsor organization, but there is a group of girl scouts which meets at St. Jude.
Activities on the St. Jude campus for all three of these scouting organizations have been put on hold until November 1. The action was taken to make sure that all the volunteer leaders for scouts are current and compliant in their certifications with respect to ensuring a safe environment for scouting. Some volunteers were not current and have been required complete their certifications so that the scouts can resume their normal activities at St. Jude on November 1."