A small-town reporter unearths a long-buried secret within the local Boy Scouts, leading to a pedophile scandal that rocks a community. Nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy®.
Friday, July 18, 2008:
A big story from a small town. Whispers in the courthouse about "missing cases" and a clandestine meeting at midnight started rookie reporter Peter Zuckerman of the Idaho Falls Post Register
on an investigation that would lead him to expose the extraordinary story of a pedophile working within the local Boy Scouts, and a brave young scout who had the courage to speak up and stop him. What was hidden from the public -- concealed within those court records -- was the story of a Boy Scout leader named Brad Stowell, convicted in 1997 of molesting two children, who had admitted under oath in a court deposition in 1999 to molesting about two dozen children beginning as far back as 1988. Zuckerman, along with executive editor Dean Miller, fought successfully to unseal court records and then tracked down victims of abuse to reveal that Boy Scout leadership and at least one official in the Mormon Church -- which sponsors most of the Boy Scout Troops in eastern Idaho -- missed opportunities to stop Stowell from working in close proximity to children.
The Post Register
published the "Scouts' Honor" series in early 2005, and the paper immediately came under fire from some in the community. The fallout of the stories ended up being far more dramatic than anyone had anticipated. A prominent local company took out full-page ads in the paper challenging the reporting and claiming, "the Post Register
's real intent was to smear the Scout's good name and take away what the Scouts value most, their honor." Additional victims came forward to tell their stories of abuse. And one father, motivated by his sons' accounts of abuse, dedicated himself full-time to changing Idaho's statue of limitations in cases involving the sexual abuse of minors.
Read the original 6-part "Scouts' Honor" series
published in late February/early March 2005 and subsequent reporting in the Idaho Falls Post Register
See the complete list of the News & Documentary Emmy nominees