HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Harrisburg man who formerly served as a Boy Scout leader in Millersburg appeared in court Tuesday after police charged him with the corruption of minors.
According to court paperwork, 60-year-old, Kenneth Barber sent inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old scout on January 31, but the Boy Scouts of America say that wasn’t the first time.
State Police, Barber sent the teen several consecutive text messages requesting to perform sexual acts on the victim and attempted to solicit photos from the minor then asked him to delete the conversation. Police say the teen reached out to Barber to ask for paperwork regarding Boy Scouts.
According to a spokesperson with the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, Barber was removed from the organization and reported to police in July 2019 after learning he had exchanged inappropriate messages with another scout.
“We are disgusted by his behavior which is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the BSA stand for,” said Ronald Gardner, Scout Executive, New Birth of Freedom Council, Boy Scouts of America.
These charges come exactly one week after the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy amid sexual abuse claims.
Jim Willshier with Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape says they often see cases of abuse or harassment where a trusted community leader is involved.
“A lot of times it will be someone that is in a role of leadership or being a trusted family member or someone in the community that knows the individual or the family, that does happen very often,” said Willshier.
Barber is free on $10,000 bail. A preliminary hearing will be held for Barber on March 2.
Full statement from Ronald Gardner, Scout Executive, New Birth of Freedom Council, Boy Scouts of America:
In July 2019, we first learned that Mr. Barber had exchanged inappropriate text messages with a Scout and took immediate action to remove him from Scouting and prohibit him from any future participation in our programs. We promptly reported his actions to law enforcement and held a meeting to inform the troop’s parents.
These charges against Mr. Barber come more than six months after he was removed from Scouting and reported by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to law enforcement. We are disgusted by his behavior, which is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the BSA stands.
Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs – it is our top priority. The BSA has a multi-layered process of safeguards informed by experts, including the following, all of which act as barriers to abuse: a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text; a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse. The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for help reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior and to request funding for in-person counseling.
In addition, the BSA has partnered with 1in6, a trusted national resource for male survivors, to meaningfully expand its online services so that more men who suffered abuse while in Scouting can access vital, anonymous support from trained advocates when and how they need it. Victims can access these services at www.1in6.org/BSA.
For more information about the BSA’s youth protection policies, our commitment to supporting victims, and our efforts to be part of the broader solution to child abuse, please visit: www.scouting.org/youth-safety.