Dickinson Press readers deserve apology; Scouts serve, protect youthOn Wednesday, The Dickinson Press published an article which at best deserves a front-page apology and at worst, an “F” for quality, investigative journalism.
By: Steven K. McLister, The Dickinson Press
On Wednesday, The Dickinson Press published an article which at best deserves a front-page apology and at worst, an “F” for quality, investigative journalism.
We can only imagine the newspaper was fueled and fooled by those on a witch hunt against the Boy Scouts of America. Some people are.
That stated, The Dickinson Press owes its readers and advertisers the professional patience, depth and ability to thoroughly and without bias examine all options before going to publication with a story implying “cover up” of such a scarring issue.
The facts as known — on Oct. 19, 1996, an incident occurred in Hot Springs, S.D., where inappropriate behavior was reported and which Troop 32, the Roughrider District and Northern Lights Council - led by Scout Executive Mark Holtz, took immediate textbook procedures to protect our youth.
The incident was reported to local authorities immediately and it became a matter for law enforcement.
The individual in question was ultimately convicted and sentenced with expulsion as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America.
Holtz personally contacted the victim’s family and offered what he could, the understanding of the pain that parents go through when their child is hurt and also to provide counseling — consistent within the Boy Scout family.
To suggest that this incident was covered up to advance Holtz’s career is defamatory and is based upon a single incident that occurred more than 16 years ago, that was reported to law enforcement the same day it occurred and resulted in a conviction of the perpetrator.
Holtz has served honorably as the council executive for more than 18 years and was recently promoted to the position of area director. He continues to reside in the same community and continues to work for the Boy Scouts and serves his community honorably.
Would it have been so difficult to allow a recently promoted Scouting professional who was on the road as part of his profession the courtesy to gain access of the file in question, which once local law enforcement became involved was turned over to the Boy Scout National office?
What your readers really need to know is what the media titled “perversion files” is — a list of ineligible volunteers — some of whom are sexual predators. But not all. Some are drug and alcohol abusers, some have emotional or anger management issues as common examples.
The media, in this case The Dickinson Press, want you to believe that this list is only child abusers. It is not.
It was a leading and effective step taken by the Boy Scouts to protect youth. By the way, the second incident referenced in the article, upon further review, was a volunteer expelled for verbal outburst around youth.
The Northern Lights Council is a volunteer driven, professionally supported youth leadership program serving more than 16,000 youth, staff and adult volunteers. They are business people, leaders of government, educators and administrators, farmers/ranchers — individuals from all walks of life who know and believe in the values and principles of scouting. Above all, they do it for youth and would never knowingly allow harm to come to one child.
Serving and protecting youth is what we are all about.
The Dickinson Press owes Holtz and the Boy Scouts of America an apology. Perhaps he is guilty of not being media savvy and knowing exactly how to put in place a rude, aggressive reporter.
I forgive him for that because I have worked beside him for years and know how he feels about all children — that is his job and his passion.
This is a rush to judgment on a highly charged, emotional issue before getting all the facts.
The newspaper has a job to do as the community watchdog — you just need to do it better — much better. Your readers and advertisers deserve it.
Yours in Scouting,
Steven K. McLister, Northern Lights Council president, Fargo