Two Whatcom County men convicted of sex crimes in the 1970s are among more than 1,200 suspected offenders listed in confidential documents released Thursday, Oct. 18, regarding sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.
The files were from 1959 to 1985 and were collected by the Boy Scouts of America with the goal of keeping pedophiles out of Scouting leadership positions. In many cases, they were successful, but in more than a third of the cases police weren't told about the alleged abuse.
That doesn't appear to have been the case in Whatcom County, though, as both men listed in the documents were arrested and convicted of their crimes.
Arthur Howard Downing III lived in Blaine and was the Scoutmaster of Troop 25 in Bellingham when he had anal sex with a 12-year-old boy in 1974. He was 38 at the time. It's unclear from the records if the boy was a member of his troop. He pleaded guilty to two counts of sodomy and was committed to Western State Hospital for treatment as a "sexual psychopath."
Arnold Newman Sr. lived in Lynden and was the leader of Troop 45 in Ferndale when he was charged with abusing at least six boys in 1976. He was 41 at the time. Two of the boys were foster children Newman cared for, and the others are believed to have been members of his troop. He pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent liberties and one count of sodomy and was committed to Western State Hospital for treatment.
Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran said treatment at Western State Hospital at that time would often last a couple years until the offenders were deemed fit to be released, after which time they would be on strict probation. McEachran was the prosecutor in the Newman case.
In both cases, the scout executive for the Mount Baker Council corresponded with the organization's registration and subscription service manager on the East Coast to get the men listed in the organization's confidential file. Both men were removed as troop leaders on the local level, and the scout executives were alerting the organization so the men could not find leadership roles in other troops.
A call to the current Scout executive of the Mt. Baker Council of the Boy Scouts of America was not returned Thursday.
Reach Zoe Fraley at email@example.com or call 360-756-2803. Visit her School Days blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/schools or get updates on Twitter at twitter.com/BhamSchools.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 756-2803.