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Unveiling the first charges of an investigation into the Boy Scouts of America, Michigan authorities charged one of the group’s former leaders with sexually abused two children for years. Mark Chapman, a 51-year-old New Yorker, was also involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) and Michigan State Police director Col. Joe Gasper jointly announced their investigation in June, one month before the Boy Scouts announced an $850 million settlement in connection with their bankruptcy. The Irving, Texas-based group had filed for bankruptcy in February 2020.
The first criminal defendant charged from the Great Lake State probe, Chapman stands accused of abusing two victims. The first was 13 or 14 years old when Chapman allegedly started abusing him, and the predation continued until the boy was 17 years old and a senior in high school, authorities say.
“The incidents occurred at the victim’s father’s house, at Chapman’s house, and at the local church,” the attorney general wrote in a press release.
The second victim was a family member who was around 11 years old when Chapman allegedly started abusing him.
“The abuse went on for years and often revolved around times that were designated as special opportunities for Chapman to spend time with the boy,” the press release states.
Chapman faces eight counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the 39th District Court in Macomb County. Authorities note that the statute of limitations on these charges have changed from a 6-year limit to no limit, but they argue that this clock stops ticking once a suspect leaves the state of Michigan. Chapman moved to New York in 2007, they note.
“It remains imperative that sexual predators be held accountable, and one of my top priorities remains securing justice for survivors of abuse,” Nessel said. “We appreciate our partnership with MSP to reach this point in this important investigation into the Boy Scouts of America. These charges are only the beginning.”
In a footnote to court papers announcing last year’s settlement, Boy Scouts of America estimated that roughly 82,500 unique abuse proofs of claim were filed as of the Nov. 16, 2020 deadline. Nessel’s office reported mining from 5,000 claims for review. A completed review of 550 claims resulted in roughly 60 inquiries sent to Michigan police for further investigation, she said.
Though Nessel hailed the settlement deal at that time as “historic,” she emphasized that her criminal probe would bring more accountability.
“While this may bring resolution for those involved in the civil litigation, our criminal work is just beginning in Michigan,” Nessel said in July. “We must ensure abusers never again have an opportunity to prey on others, and the best way to achieve that is through a criminal investigation.”
Both partners on the investigation encouraged survivors to reach out weekdays during business hours.
“We continue to stand ready to listen to survivors and investigate any allegations that are made,” Col. Gasper wrote in a statement. “Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the investigation hotline at 844-324-3374.”
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(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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