Public Editor

June 14, 2013

Should convicted child sex abuser’s Cub Scout past be mentioned?

A man convicted of sexually abusing two young girls this week was also formerly a Cub Scout leader. That detail angered at least one reader.
Yesterday, The Star published a story about the conviction of Daryl D. Lemasters

on four counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, sexual exploitation of a minor and child enticement. Its headline on KansasCity.com was “Former Cub Scout leader is convicted of sexually abusing two girls,” and it was “Former Scout leader convicted of sexually abusing two girls” in print.

One emailer told me he didn’t think Lemasters’ past with the Cut Scouts was germane to the story.

“What does this guy being a Cub Scout leader have to do with the news report?” he asked. “He was a lot of things, perhaps a father, a husband, a leader in his community, an employee. What would ANY of those things have to do with what he did?

“I and many others have spent a lifetime of volunteer work with scouting in an effort to provide a program of character for boys. You, in a few negative (and unnecessary) words, can cancel out a lot of dedicated positive efforts.”

Of course I understand his objection here. And you see people trying to cast aspersions on many different kinds of groups by pointing out the misdeeds of some of their members, whether relative or not.

Here, though, I think there can be arguments on both sides. The girls Lemasters was convicted of abusing were of the same age as Boy Scouts, and the fact that he sought out a leadership position with youngsters would seem extremely meaningful to many readers, I’m sure. We have all heard of too many reports about molesters who preyed on both male and female children.

In this case, I don’t find it egregious, though I absolutely understand the discomfort it has to cause to the many decent people who care deeply about the Cub Scout program.

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