Former Boy Scout says leader’s abuse apology ‘too little, too late’

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CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) — Long-held secrets about allegations of child sexual assaults involving a Boy Scout leader are now part of a police investigation in Ross County.

The case has come to light with details of a two-year investigation posted online.

Late last week, Horizon Telecom announced the termination of Bill McKell as Chief Executive Officer. The reason for that termination is now clear.

In a letter posted on his Facebook page, Bill McKell appears to acknowledge the allegations. “My name is Bill McKell and I am a child molester,” the letter begins.  “Every 12-step program begins with admission. I have been one who abused teenage boys.”

The letter goes on to reference a police investigative file that has been circulating on social media. According to the unredacted file, Chillicothe police opened an investigation two years ago when an officer reported that her brother had been molested by a boy scout leader in 1982 and believed there might be other victims as well.

According to a leaked investigative file, more than two dozen victims have been identified. Many former Boy Scouts describe similar experiences.

Interviews conducted by detectives appear to link McKell to more than a dozen young victims in the 1980’s and  90’s. The alleged assaults occurred at Chief Logan Reservation boy scout camp and other places in Ohio and other states.

Eric Palmer says he was 12 years old when he was sexually assaulted by McKell.

“He started playful wrestling with me but then it did become physically restraining me,” Palmer said. “It quickly turned from something playful to something I was really afraid of what was happening.”

After years of bottling up his feelings, he has decided to speak publicly.

Palmer was surprised to see in the police file how many other young boys have now reported similar stories.

“I hadn’t talked to any of these other former Boy Scouts about their unique encounters with him and it was validation for me that I wasn’t making something up because the behavior was so similar in so many of these cases,” he said.

Palmer says for years, he avoided talking about it. Only recently did he seek counseling.  He says he decided to speak out to encourage other sexual abuse victims to come forward.

“I want other folks to see that it’s possible to come through this and come out the other side and to be stronger and to survive from it and not be afraid to speak out,” Palmer said. 

The now-deleted letter posted on McKell’s Facebook page says, “In 1996, I attended a spiritual renewal weekend that changed my life as I realized how truly sick I was. At that point, I committed myself to recovery. I would love to say I was instantly “cured.” I was not, but I am recovered. I sincerely apologize and seek the forgiveness of each person I have caused to suffer hurt and shame.”

Palmer was not moved.

“Unfortunately, it’s only now after folks have come forward,” Palmer said. “I’m very sorry for the pain his family, again some of whom I’ve been very close with all my life, that they have to be going through.  

And just the harm, the ripple effect of harm that something like this causes, I just don’t see his apology, unfortunately, as genuine.”

Boy Scouts of America says McKell was barred from scouting activities in the mid 1990s due to allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Palmer says it’s too little, too late.

“And just the harm, the ripple effect of harm that something like this causes, i just dont see his apology, unfortunately as genuine,” said Palmer.

McKell has not been charged with a crime. The incidents described occurred more than 20 years ago, which puts them outside the state statute of limitations. Some of the alleged incidents took place across state lines and federal authorities are now involved.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement looking for more information:

The allegations – and apparent confession – of sexual abuse surrounding a former Boy Scout leader in Chillicothe deserve swift, severe punishment.

Because of the statute of limitations, that may not happen under current law. That is precisely why I, along with several former attorneys general, have called for the statute of limitations for rape to be eliminated. Victims deserve the chance to face their abusers in the court of law.

If you are a victim of this case, or know someone who is, please call the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 855-BCI-OHIO or you may file a tip anonymously online.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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