A 19-year-old airman in the U.S. Air Force in the mid-1960s, who worked for several months with a Burnsville Boy Scout troop, is among those listed in the organization’s so-called “perversion files,” released this week by court order.
Robert James Sykes was involved with a Burnsville troop for eight months in 1965 and 1966 before moving on to Michigan, where he was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct, according to those files.
The files were used as evidence in a 2010 molestation lawsuit against the Boy Scouts. A jury ultimately awarded $20 million to a man who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.
About 5,000 men – and a handful of women – were expelled from the Boy Scouts of America between 1947 and January 2005 on suspicion of sexual abuse. Although information on thousands of those cases was released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court last week, an unknown number of files were purged by the Boy Scouts before the early 1990s.
Seventy-nine of the cases listed on the Los Angeles Times’ online database involved Minnesota Boy Scout troops.
Sykes, who worked with an unnamed Burnsville troop between July 1965 and March 1966, was kicked out of the organization after he was accused and admitted to “indecent liberties with minors” while on a Boy Scout outing on Labor Day 1966 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
In a letter dated Sept. 16, 1966, a Boy Scout official – whose name was redacted – writes to someone named Chuck:
“This is to officially notify you that one Robert Sykes, age 19, either being or is registered as an assistant scoutmaster (troop 153), is a truly undesirable character and must be listed as such in the scouting program.
“He was accused and admitted to indecent liberties with minors while on a Scout outing at St. Ignace on Labor Day weekend. As a a result of the investigation, the military authorities and the OSI [the military’s Office of Special Investigations] have been fully briefed and are taking appropriate actions to eliminate him from service.
“Sykes has stated that this same type mess occurred in a previous troop that he belonged to and as soon as can be found out, will let you know what troop and where.
“The Scouts have officially notified Sykes that he is suspended from further activity with us and will undoubtedly be barred for good, but only after confirmation with the Council.
“So far have had good cooperation and understanding from our parents, but it is unknown at this point what effect the incident will have on our membership. Will keep you advised.”
Other men from Eagan and Apple Valley also appear in the so-called perversion files.
The Boy Scouts have maintained “ineligible volunteer” files since at least 1919 in an effort to keep sexual abusers and others out of its ranks.
Nevertheless, the Burnsville Boy Scouts have not been immune to scandal. In 2009, four boys involved in Burnsville's Boy Scout Troop 650 accused Scout Leader Peter Robert Stibal II of molesting them on multiple occasions from 2002 to 2008.
During the ensuing investigation, police discovered child pornography on Stibal's home computer. In June 2011, after a lengthy trial, Stibal was convicted, and a judge sentenced him to 21 years in prison.