In a Small Town
So I just kept asking questions, because whenever somebody says "you don't want to go there," I think, "that's where I should be going."
--Peter Zuckerman, Idaho Falls Post Register reporter
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.