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Boy Scout camp chaperone accused of hiding cameras in shower room, police looking to identify victims

Deputies said they have not been able to identify three of the victims and are asking any potential victims to call them
Credit: George Frey/Getty Images
PAYSON, UT - JULY 31: A Boy Scout neckerchief. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, Mo. — A man who traveled with a St. Louis County Boy Scout troop as a chaperone this summer is now facing 15 criminal charges after police said he hid cameras in the shower area of the facility.

The St. Francois County Sheriff's Department said David Nelson, a 39-year-old man from Redmond, Washington, was charged with six counts of promoting child pornography and nine counts of invasion of privacy Tuesday, less than a month after the alleged incident.

Police said Nelson traveled to the S Bar F Scout Ranch with a troop from St. Louis County. He was serving as a chaperone starting on July 18 at Camp Gamble. 

On July 23, cameras were found in the shower area of the camp. During its investigation, St. Francois County sheriff's deputies identified Nelson as the primary suspect and arrested him. He was charged on Tuesday.

Sheriff's deputies say they have not been able to identify boys victimized in the incident.

"Any persons who attended or had children attend Camp Gamble at the S Bar F Ranch between Sunday, July 18, 2021, and Friday, July 23, 2021, and believe that they may be a victim are encouraged to contact Sgt. Greg Adams at 573-756-3252 Ext 213 or Lt. Matt Wampler at 573-756-3252 Ext 209," a press release from the sheriff's department said.

The sheriff's department went on to say the following Greater St. Louis Area Council Troops were identified as having campers present during the above frame:

  • 661 Boy and Girl Troop,
  • 281 Boy Troop,
  • 51 Boy Troop,
  • 66 Boy Troop,
  • 680 Boy Troop,
  • 371 Boy Troop,
  • 11 Boy Troop,
  • 407 Boy Troop,
  • 434 Boy Troop,
  • 150 Boy Troop,
  • 352 Boy and Girl Troop,
  • 662 Boy Troop,
  • 8216 Boy and Girl Troop,
  • 8357 Boy Troop,
  • 8002 Boy and Girl Troop,
  • 8001 Boy Troop,
  • 98 Boy Troop, and
  • 179 Boy Troop.

The Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America provided the following statement:

We are saddened by this behavior, which is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands. Upon learning of this incident, we promptly contacted local law enforcement and took immediate action to remove this individual from Scouting and bar him from future participation in our programs. We also carefully inspected our camp facilities and confirmed that no additional recording devices were present on any of our council’s camp properties. 

Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs – it is our top priority. Over many years, the BSA has developed some of the strongest youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organization, which are informed by respected experts in the fields of child safety, law enforcement, and child psychology. The BSA’s multi-layered safeguards include the following measures, all of which act as barriers to abuse: 

  • mandatory youth protection training for all volunteers and employees; 
  • a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times during Scouting activities and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interaction alone with children – either in person, online, or via phone or text; 
  • a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks;
  • a ban on the use of recording devices/cell phones near bathrooms and shower houses; and
  • the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement. 

The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (scouts1st@scouting.org) for help reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.   

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 Scouting.org/YouthSafety.